Carlos and Maria were arguing over who is the better basketball player. Here are their statistics:

Points scored per game, Carlos: 10, 6, 9, 3, 12

Points scored per game, Maria: 11, 10, 8, 7

Carlos said "You see, I've scored 10+6+9+3+12 = 40 points this season, and you've only scored 11+10+8+7 = 36 points this season."

Maria said "That's true, but you've played 5 games and I've only played 4 games, so that's not a fair way to count."

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Their coach, Mr. Mufasa, overheard their conversation. "Well kids, there's a way that we can settle this for sure. We can see who has the highest average. An average tells you how many points you usually score per game.

"Since Carlos scored a total of 40 points in 5 games, then he has an average of 40/5 = 8 points per game. We divide the total number of points by the number of games played, and that gives us the average."

"I think I see", said Maria. "I scored 36 total points and I played 4 games, so my average would be..."

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What is Maria's average?
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The average is a very useful way to describe a set of data. It is used in sports (average points scored), weather (average temperature), the stock market (Dow-Jones Industrial average), and almost anywhere that someone wants a fast and easy way to compare data.

Let's take another look at how to compute an average:
1. Add the amounts

2. Count the amounts

3. Divide by the number of amounts

What is the average of these amounts: 9, 10, 20

1. Add the amounts.  
2. How many amounts are there?  
3. Divided by the number of amounts. What is the result?
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I think you've got it!

Try it out on this one (you may use a calculator if you like):

Jonathon scored 80, 87, 100, and 93 on his tests.

Nancy scored 95, 90, 70, and 85 on her tests.

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What is Jonathon's average test score:  

What is Nancy's average test score: 

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You're doing great! There's one more thing you should know about the average. It has another name. Sometimes, the average is called the "mean", which is a little funny because averages are really quite nice! Have you ever heard of "meanwhile" or "in the mean time"? In these cases, "mean" denotes "during" or "in the middle", so that's where we get the other name for the average. The average is a value that's in the middle, also known as the mean.

Cool, huh?