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Announcing ROAD TRIP: 50 States of Math!

by Laura Overdeck

It’s the Fourth of July, the day we celebrate the U.S. becoming a free country…and a great time to launch ROAD TRIP: 50 States of Math! Starting tomorrow we’re doing the math about a new state each day, because every state has crazy facts and figures. We’re mixing up the order to make every day a surprise. So buckle up, print out your map, and color it in to track your trip!

Washington, D.C. is not a state, but hey, it’s our nation’s capital, so let’s start there. It has a great fireworks show tonight over the city’s tallest building, the Washington Monument. It stands 555 feet 5 inches tall. Can the fireworks fly over that? Yes: fireworks can explode as high as 1,000 feet above the ground. And here’s a firework party fact: for every inch the firework shell is wide, the burst is another 45 feet wide. Let’s find out how huge fireworks really are!

Wee ones: Fireworks are made of different salts, which makes them different colors. If you see fireworks in blue, yellow, orange, green and red, how many colors do you see?

Little kids: If the fireworks show blasts 2 star-shaped bursts, then 2 spidery bursts, then 2 rings, how many bursts do you see? Bonus: Test your memory: how many bursts came before the 2 rings?

Big kids: If the Washington Monument is 555 feet tall and a burst barely skids 60 feet above the pointy tip, how high were the fireworks? Bonus: If a burst is 45 feet across for a 1-inch shell, how wide would it be for a 2-inch shell? And using that answer, how wide for a 6-inch shell?

The sky’s the limit – literally: The DC fireworks explode on time to old-fashioned music loudly playing. If a song is 3 minutes long and there’s a burst every 10 seconds starting 10 seconds into the music, and every 5 seconds for the last half-minute, how many bursts explode during the song?



Wee ones: 5 colors.

Little kids: 6 bursts. Bonus: 4 bursts – the 2 stars and 2 spidery ones.

Big kids: 615 feet high. Bonus: 90 feet across for a 2-inch shell, and then 3 times as wide for the 6-inch, giving us 270 feet across.

The sky’s the limit: 21 bursts. It’s a 180-second song (60 seconds x 3), so there are 18 bursts on all the 10-second marks. Then there are 3 extra bursts during the last half-minute, at 25, 15 and 5 seconds before the end.

And join us tomorrow to visit the place big enough to hold 22 other states!

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