September 9, 2014

by Mrs. Hamman

6 Comments

In math class we learn all kinds of new things, but we really like it when we come across math problems that relate to real life. That’s why we love the site 101 Questions. It has pictures and videos of things you might see in real life. We like to find an interesting picture, then think of math questions to solve that relate to that picture.

One of the pictures we saw on 101 Questions recently made us think! (This picture was also posted on Yummy Math, another awesome math site.) Here is the picture:

Have you ever seen a display like that at the grocery store? Most of us have. Looking at this picture made us think of a lot of math questions. In fact, within a few minutes we had brainstormed a list of over 50 questions about that one picture! Some of our questions were:

- How tall is it?
- How long would it take one person to make? What about two people?
- How many calories are in all of the soda?
- How much did it all cost? What if it was on sale? What if only certain brands were on sale?
- What size of a truck would you need to transport all of it?
- If you took all the empty cans to the recycling center, how much money would you make?
- How long would it take one person to drink all of the soda?

After we brainstormed we voted on which question we actually wanted to answer, and the question about how long it would take to drink was the winner.

Then we had to decide how to answer that question. The first thing we had to do was figure out how many boxes were in the picture. We realized that a quick way of counting would be to figure out the areas of the rectangular sections. (We won’t tell you the amount we came up with in case you want to do this problem yourself!) After we figured out the amount of boxes, we multiplied that by 12 to figure out the amount of individual cans.

Then we had to figure out how long it would take to drink all those cans. We realized that we would have to use some estimation, since different people would drink at different rates. We also realized that different types of different soda (like diet vs. non-diet) probably would take different times to drink, and it would make a difference whether or not the soda was cold or room temperature, or whether you poured it into a cup, or whether you used a straw…

For our problem, we decided to all drink one kind of soda (Sprite) at one temperature (cold), out of a can, and without a straw. We chose 12 people to time while they drank a can; we told them not to race, but to drink it at their regular rate. As we suspected, there was a large range in our times. The longest time was just over 13 minutes, and the shortest time was under 45 seconds!

To make the times easier to work with, we converted all the times to seconds and rounded the decimals to hundredths of a second. Then we had to decide what time to use for our math problem. Some of us wanted to use the mean, while others wanted to use the median. Because we are learning to divide with decimals, Mrs. Hamman thought finding the mean would be good practice, so that’s what we did.

Then there were only a couple of steps left! We multiplied the number of cans by our mean, then converted our answer into other time intervals. Are you curious about our final answer?

By our calculations (rounded to the nearest hundredth), if one person drank all that soda at the same rate and didn’t stop, it would take that one person…

1,299,590.16 seconds,

OR 21,659.84 minutes,

OR 361.00 hours,

OR 15.04 days,

OR 2.15 weeks

to drink all that soda!

If you like to make up your own math problems, you should check out 101 Questions and Yummy Math. If you’d like to see lots more creative displays at grocery stores, here’s a fun Flickr group!

**Does the Soda Santa picture make you think of any other math questions?**

**In the part of the U.S.A. where we live, most people call carbonated drinks like the ones in the picture “soda”. What do they call them where you live?**