Math = Love: Math is Everywhere!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Math is Everywhere!

Over Christmas Break, we were lucky to enjoy some pretty warm days here in Oklahoma.  I spent all of the holiday at my parents' house.  I live about 60 miles away from them, so I don't always get to see them as often as I would like.  I do go to church and have lunch with my parents and sister every Sunday.

We took advantage of a warmer than normal Saturday to take a short day trip down historic Route 66.  We started in Tulsa and ended up in Oklahoma City.  As I was looking through the pictures I took that day, I couldn't help but see math in so many of the pictures.

My students often argue that math has no place in real life.  I would beg to differ.  Math is all around us if we take the time to notice.

The Route 66 Bridge in Tulsa got me to thinking.  What type of function would best model this bridge?  Is this a parabola?  Or something else?

Route 66 Bridge
In Tulsa, there is also a small park that has a train exhibit.  The wheels on the steam engine were HUGE.  For reference, I'm 5'7''.  Or, 5'6''.  I can't really remember.

I can see using this as a geometry problem.  What is the area of the wheel?  What is the circumference of the wheel?
There was also an Oklahoma shaped flower bed.  Wait.  Can you call it a flower bed if it doesn't have flowers in it?  Rock bed?  Well, I'm not quite sure what to call this thing.  But, my inquiring mind is curious about whether the is truly proportional to the state of Oklahoma.  Does the stone that the plaque is resting on represent a county?  Is it proportional?  What about the star that represents Tulsa?  Is it proportional?

Oklahoma Flower Bed - Proportional?

In Sapulpa, there is a display featuring a Frankhoma Pottery plate and a giant glass bottle.  Frankhoma Pottery is very popular in this part of the country.  This also screams proportions to me.  How much does the large plate weigh?  Could you figure it out by weighing a normal dinner plate?  Were the plate and the bottle increased at the same scale?

Sapulpa, OK Route 66 Display
Our next to last stop was the Round Barn in Arcadia, OK.  It is the only round barn left in the state of Oklahoma.  It was built in 1898!  How much paint would it take to repaint the Round Barn?  The top loft is rented out for parties and events.  When people are planning weddings, square footage can be very important.  How many square feet would this venue provide?  When we were there, there was actually a wedding going on upstairs.  You could hear the people walking around upstairs.

Round Barn - Arcadia, OK 

The first floor of the Round Barn is a gift shop and museum.  All around the room, there are these handmade posters.  I took a picture of one of them.  Even though the punchline is at the bottom of the paper, I didn't understand the joke.  This was about 3 p.m.  Around 10 p.m. that night, I was looking through all of the pictures I had taken.  I read the joke again, and I finally understood it!  It only took me 7 hours...

Cemetery Joke Found In Round Barn
I think this last one might be my favorite math question.  POPS is a new(ish) landmark on Route 66.  It's part restaurant.  Part pop shop.  Part gas station.  There is a giant pop bottle statue out in front.  According to the POPS website, the giant pop bottle stands 66 feet tall.  I guess that's fitting since it's on Route 66.  It also weighs over 4 tons!

POPS - Arcadia, OK
Inside POPS, you can purchase over 650 different kinds of soda pop.  They are supposed to have over 60 different varieties of root bear and over 40 different varieties of cream soda.  Here's my math question - if you poured every bottle of pop from POPS into the large sculpture (assuming it wouldn't leak out by some type of magic!), how full would the bottle be?

We offer an Oklahoma tourism class at my school, and they actually stopped at POPS on a field trip.  Students from that class could give us information on how many bottles of each flavor of pop are typically on the shelves at POPS.  Students could actually call the store with further questions.  How many of each flavor do they typically stock?  

Maybe one day I will get to the point in my teaching career that I don't feel so constricted by the curriculum I am supposed to be teaching.  There are amazing math problems out there in the world, just waiting to be solved.  Some day, I will make time for them.


  1. Great pictures, they make me want to drive Route 66. I really would love some 60 degree weather. If your ears are ringing this week it's because I plan to share some of the interactive notebook material from your blog at our department's professional development. (I hope that is a term used everywhere. We use the expression my ears are ringing, to mean someone is talking about us ). I am often asked "where do you get your ideas?" I plan to come clean and admit I shamelessly steal the from great blogs like yours!

    1. Don't worry. We talk about people's ears ringing in Oklahoma, too! :) It means a lot to me that you feel that my blog is share-worthy! Hope your presentation this week goes well!