Snowzilla Math for Back to School

January 28, 2016 at 6:01 am Leave a comment

I don’t know where you live, or how much snow you’ve gotten, or whether your kids have been out of school for multiple days. But here in Falls Church, VA, it’s Thursday, January 28 — five full days after snow stopped falling from Winter Storm Jonas — and our schools are still closed.

My sons lounge around in their pajamas all day, only getting off the couch to interrupt my work-from-home day and ask for macaroni and cheese. It’s starting to feel like we’ve had two eight-year-old brothers-in-law take up residence.

That’s why I’ve used data from Snowzilla to create a series of math activities. Today’s assignment is for them to complete the following and not bother me till they’re done. Feel free to use any of these with the youngsters in your life, whether they’re your biological offspring from whom you need a break at home or your charges in a classroom who might enjoy the challenge.

What do geometry teachers do in a blizzard?
Make snow angles.

Schools have had a record number of snow days. At this rate, the only math kids are doing is how many glasses of wine their mom drinks before 2 p.m. – Jimmy Fallon

1. Chris Christopher, a macroeconomist at IHS Global Insight, estimated that Jonas’s economic impact would be somewhere between $500 million and $1 billion.

a. Write both of those numbers in the form 2m × 5n.

b. If all values within the range are equally likely, what is the probability that the impact will be greater than $800 million?

c. If all values within the range are normally distributed, what is the probability that the impact will be greater than $800 million?

Bonus. Can you think of another occupation where it’s appropriate to state a prediction in which the upper end of the range is double the lower end?

2. In the Washington, DC, area, the average weekly sales in a typical supermarket is about $10 per square foot. In the two days leading up to Jonas, traffic to brick-and-mortar stores was 7.5 percent higher than usual. The graph below, based on national averages, shows the percent of weekly shoppers at grocery stores each day of the week.

Grocery Shoppers by Day

Putting all this information together, as well any other data that you can find online, draw a graph that approximates sales at a typical grocery store in Washington, DC, for the month of January.

3. Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe estimated that snow removal costs the commonwealth $2 million to $3 million per hour. Estimate the total cost for Virginia to clean up Jonas’s mess.

4. According to City Comptroller Scott Stringer, the cost of snow removal in New York City is approximately $1.8 million per inch. Estimate the total cost for New York City to remove the snow from Jonas.

5. The estimate above is an average for 2003 to 2014. The two graphs below show the snowfall totals and snow removal costs for those 12 years. Which years had the highest and lowest cost-per-inch? (Click each image to enlarge.)

NYC SnowfallNYC Snow Removal Costs

Korean War Memorial - Snowzilla

Korean War Memorial during Winter Storm Jonas – photo by Michael Reynolds, EPA

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The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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