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!
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 before she could walk, 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.