Tuesday, March 11, 2014

What is the Weight of the Snow You Shoveled this Winter?

A colleague of mine gave me an article today from the Chicago Tribune called "One man's snow-shoveling total: 25 tons (and counting)"   Take some time and read it.  I loved it.  There is a TON of math in this.  Pun intended.  Wallberg (the author) challenged us to find the amount of snow that we have shoveled on our own driveway.  So, being the math geek that I am, I did it.  Here is my work.

1.  I found the area that I shovel on my driveway. Use this site:  Free Map Tools This site is really cool.

2.  Let's change snow to water. Wallberg (the author of the article) uses a 15 inches of snow to 1 inch of water ratio.  So we have had 75.2 inches of snow this year so far divided by 15 will give us the amount of water in inches that we have had this winter.  That is 5.01 inches of "rain" that fell as snow.  That is (5.01/12) of a foot.
from www.montecitowater.com/ 
3.  Ok now lets figure out how many cubic feet of water that is.  I took the area that I found for my driveway from the cool website above and multiplied that by (5.01/12).  That is 1085 square feet times (5/12) foot to equal the number of cubic feet of water that is on my driveway.  Remember that the (5/12) foot will be changing as there is more snow predicted tonight.  That would be roughly 453 cubic feet of water.

4.  One cubic foot of water weighs 62.4 pounds.  If you multiply 452 cubic feet from above by 62.4 pounds you get roughly 28,267 pounds of snow (water).  Yes that is over 14 tons of snow that I shoveled!  I just patted myself on the back and said "Good Job David".

They will need to use this info.
1.  Find the area that you shovel on your driveway.   Free Map Tools 
2.  Use 15 inches of snow equals 1 inch of water ratio.
3.  Use 62.4 pounds per cubic foot of water.

The beautiful part of this problem is that their are a lot of ways to come up with the answer.  Wallberg (the author of the article) found the weight of 1 square foot of water by 1 inch high.  He used this to get the the weight of 1 square foot of water for whole seasons worth of snow (water).  I love this problem because it gives the students some ownership of the work.  Give it a try.  I certainly will.

Thanks to mwalberg@tribune.com Twitter: @mattwalberg1  for writing this cool article.