Archive for the ‘Rates’ Category


Braindead Math for Halloween

October 29, 2019

Tarantino, being a connoisseur of Fake Blood, used several types of Fake Blood in the film Kill Bill II ranging from good splatter to free-flowing blood. According to one fanzine, in this film, Uma Thurman killed 88 opponents with a sword.  So the numbers(above)are in the right ‘blood-soaked’ ballpark. More survival math (The Hunger Games) here.


Why do so many students HATE MATH? … um, you know, BOREDOM

September 28, 2019

According to ‘Bored Out of Their Minds’, an article by ZACHARY JASON in The Harvard Ed Magazine (2017):

Boredom accounts for nearly a third of the variation in student achievement. 

Half of high school dropouts cite boredom as their primary motivator for leaving.

Boredom begins for Math students at Grade 6 when students (Common Core Standards, USA) tackle more abstract concepts such as linear eqns, exponents, probability, geometry and so on.

Math curriculums in the USA, UK & Australia all demand students solve REAL LIFE problems. Too often these are of the type:

Q. Ronaldo has tethered his goat on a 12ft rein in the corner of a 20ft square field. What area can the goat graze?

THE ANS: Who cares?


Ask students maths questions which have answers they want to know.

Students really don’t care about Ronaldo’s goat, but here are some questions which involve intriguing answers they might want to work out. And many of these questions involve funny or age-relevant activities, which also helps engagement.

1. Mean, Median STATS: Mean, Median and Coffee: Busting an Urban Myth

2. Parabolas: Can you beat the 12-14 yo World Record for a Watermelon Pip spit?

3. Geometry: Build a Freestanding Tower

Rates (Speed) & Units:

4a. The Terrifying Math of Running from a bear

USA Units


4b. How old is your hair?

5. Decimals, %, Volume: What Volume of alcohol is lethal for teens?

6. Decimals, Algebra, Weight Units

How much blood can a kid lose and survive?


Metric Units

Graph Hunger Game Math

7. GEOMETRY. Angles

Why killer heels can kill!

Any Topic:

8. Middle School Math Photo Scavenger Hunt

9. Write Your Own Math Song

Space Math Song here

10. Make a Math Poster


The average time it takes an audience at a conference to switch off is 11 minutes. Keep in mind this audience is, at least, being paid to be bored witless.


Sound Math 2: Can you hear this high pitch sound?

April 29, 2019

One of the best summaries of sound can be found here at Maths is Fun

Other Sound Math:

Make a match Box sing like Sinatra

The Curious Nature of Drummers’ Brains

Headbanger Maths

Pump Up the volume or Knock, Knock Knockin on Your skull wall!


Winter Olympics: Beaten by 0.001 seconds

February 14, 2018


In 2014 Winter Olympics Annette Gerristen (below) lost the Gold Medal in the 1000 m Women’s speed skate competition by 0.02 seconds.

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

Annette Gerritsen fromthe Netherlands

What are the speed skating times for women?

Women’s Speed Skating Calulations:

Here are the speed calcs for Yara Van Kerkhof of the Netherlands in the 2018 Winter Olympics:

If Yara lost the Gold Medal by 0.02 secs (2 hundredths of a second) what would the distance be between the Gold and Silver place getters?

When 1st and 2nd place are separated by 0.02 seconds, they are travelling at almost the same speed. So the second place contestant is:

23.8 cm behind the Gold Medalist

The 2018 Olympic Gold Medalist in the 500m Women’s Speed Skating was Arianna Fontana.

Italy’s Arianna Fontana wins the 500 m Speed Skating 2018 Olympic Gold Medal in 42.569 seconds ahead of Yara van Kerkhof of the Netherlands and Kim Boutin of Canada. 

Men’s Speed Skating:

At longer distances the men’s speed skating speed is similar to the women’s speed above.

If you lose by  0.001 secs…………

Apollo Ono (below) competed in the 1500m men’s speed skating. He has won 8 Olympic Medals.

If a speed skater lost the Gold Medal by 0.001 seconds, the smallest measured time segment at the Olympics, they would be:

1.19 cm

behind the winner. That is less than the length of a small fingernail.


Smoke Jumpers and their Amazing Wildfire Maths . . . . . . . . . . . . . . METRIC UNITS

December 5, 2016


With wildfires in Texas and now Australia is facing the fire season, it is time to think about fire fighter maths.



Background Story

On 5th August 1949 Wag Dodge was dropped by parachute with 14 other fire fighters into Mann Gulch, a steep-sided gully in a Montana pine forest. Fire fighters who parachute in to put out small blazes started by lightening are called Smoke Jumpers. As they worked their way down the sides of the gully the breeze was blowing away from them. But the wind soon shifted. This produced an updraft, which increases the speed of the fire front. The 15 Smoke Jumpers turned and started running for their lives uphill.



Time Trial:

Mark out a 10 m course. Make 3 time trials.

t1 =

t2 =


Average your time:

tav = (t1 + t2 + t3)/ 3 =

Your Speed S = 10/tav = ……… m/sec



This will, of course, vary depending on the wind speed. A typical grass fire in Australia in a flat area can travel at 20kph (up to 30 kph) in a gentle breeze.

Fire Front Speed Grass Fire

Fire Front Speed = 20 kph = 20 x1000/(60 x 60)

                               = 20 x 0.27777777 = 20 x 0.28 m/sec

                               = 5.6 m/sec



Average Running Speed Boy 13–14 yo = 3.0 m/sec

Average Running Speed Girl 13–14 yo = 2.4 m/sec

We’ll assume, boy or girl, that you are really motivated and can run away from the fire at top speed of 3.0 m/sec. Now calculate the distance you can run and the fire front moves in 10 secs intervals up to 1 minute.


This is not looking good. See more Firefighters Need Maths here.

We can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations. Wildfire Algebra: Detailed Worksheet using simultaneous equations and solutions  here.


We’ll assume, due to being motivated by having a fire licking your heels, that you can run at your top speed up hill for a short time, at least. But here is the problem.

Heat rises and so there is a Chimney Effect pushing the fire uphill. The rule of thumb used by fire fighters is:

Each 10º increase in slope, the fire front speed doubles.



Now you can calculate the distance travelled by the fire front up a slope at a 30º angle.

Don’t forget you can use the WEB 2.0 Calculator here.


Even at your top running speed, which is unlikely up a slope, you can run 180 m in 1 minute. In that time the forefront has moved 2688 m or 2.7 km.

It depends how far away you are from the fire front, but it seems you cannot out run this fire front.

Again we can do very accurate calculations using simultaneous equations.

See Firefighters Need Maths here.

Wildfire Algebra: Worksheet and solutions here.


High winds can turn a bush or forrest fire into a WILD FIRE with wind speeds up to 110 kph and temperatures up to 2000 °C, which can and does melt glass and cars.

The fire front speed doubles with every 10º, so speeds for the fire front can reach 220 kph, 330kph and up to 550kph.


What happened to the Smoke Jumpers?

When the fire front changed direction Wag Dodge and 14 other Smoke Jumpers found themselves running for their lives up a steep slope. What did Wag do next?

ANS: Here’s the amazing thing. Wag realised he could not out run the fire at that point. So he stopped. Took off his back pack. Took out some MATCHES and lit a fire in the grassy patch in front of him. Just before the firewall hit he threw himself face down on the burnt patch. He survived. The other 14 firefighters did not.


One Second

June 27, 2016

1 Second Logo

1 Second Logo 2a

1 second 1 Mathspig1 Seccond 2 Mathspig1 Second 3 Mathspig

1 Second 4 Mathspg

1 Second 5 Mathspig1 Second 6 Mathspig1 Second 7 Mathspig1 Second 8 Mathspig


Hair Maths 3: How OLD is your hair?

April 30, 2015

1 Mathspig 1980s hair

2 Hair follicle

The follicle diagram (above) came from bgoffforensics blog. More on hair growth rates here.


3 Mathspig how old is your hair!!!!

4 Mathspig 1970s celebrity hair

QUESTION 2: 5 MAthspig world's Longest Dreads

The growth rates of 1.25 cm/month or 0.5 inches/month are rounded off. Calculations using these growth rates will produce different answers for very large numbers (as above). Read more about the above story in the Daily Mail, UK here. By the way, Asha has been growing her hair for 25 years. Her hair weighs 3 stone or 19 kg. You can find more hair records including the World’s longest ear hair here.


6 Mathspig Natasha's hair

Natasha lives in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Read more about Natasha in the Daily Mail here. Once again Mathspig has rounded off the length of hair for easy calculation. The Daily Mail puts Natasha’s ‘mane’ at 5 feet 2 inches or 157 cm. This is the length of hair to be cut off. So Mathspig adjusted the length to 180cm or the approx length of her longest hair.