Groundhog Day

Groundhog Day

February 2, 2013
By   |   Animals

Today is Groundhog Day in the U.S.  It’s the day when groundhogs apparently come up out of their holes in the ground, look around, and then either see their own shadow or miss it.  If it’s cloudy out and the groundhog doesn’t see his shadow, it means spring weather will come early; if he does see his shadow, it means winter weather will last another 6 weeks – which in a way it should, since spring starts on or around March 20.  Setting that all aside, people wait to find out what the grandest groundhog of them all, Punxsutawney Phil, will do, and many folks then plan their lives around that – or at least their vacations.

Wee ones: If the groundhog takes 2 seconds to pop out, 3 more seconds to notice his shadow, and 2 more seconds to dive back into his hole, how many seconds did the whole famous ritual take?

Little kids: There are a whole bunch of groundhogs around the U.S. and Canada who are watched each year, with names like Queen Charlotte, Dover Doug, and Chuckles.  Of last year’s 37 groundhogs listed on Wikipedia, only 10 predicted more winter for their hometown.  How many predicted early spring?  Bonus: The recordkeeping on Wikipedia began in 2008.  Once we add today’s results, how many years of groundhog predictions will be listed? (Remember to include 2008, too!)

Big kids: These groundhogs are scattered from hot to cold: Smith Lake Jake in Graysville, Alabama probably feels closer to spring than Jimmy the Groundhog in Sun Prairie, Wisconsin.  If today it’s 56 degrees for Smith Lake Jake but just 19 degrees for Jimmy, how much chillier is Jimmy feeling?  Bonus: What date actually falls 6 weeks from February 2? (You can use this year’s February, which has only 28 days).

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: 7 seconds.

Little kids: 27 predicted early spring.  Bonus: 6 years – you need to subtract 2007 from our current year to make sure 2008 doesn’t get chopped out (this counting issue is known as the “fencepost problem”).

Big kids: 37 degrees cooler.  Bonus: Saturday, March 16.

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Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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