The first thing you have to understand is that asking people to model with mathematics makes them mad. Not in all contexts, though! At a social gathering with a generally amiable and curious group of people, you might try floating a question like:
- I wonder if graduates of more expensive universities tend to earn more in their careers?
- Do you think the time it takes a pendulum to swing back and forth depends on how heavy it is?
- What do you think is the most efficient way to get 2,000 calories a day?
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