As anyone in town for NCTM in Denver know, it’s been a bit snowy here this week. In fact, Fort Collins just had its biggest snowfall of the year. But how big?
We had a two hour school delay this morning as my daughter and I were greeted by this on our back doorstep.
“Wow that’s a lot of snow!” she says. But how much snow is it? Go go gadget EmergentMath!
I got this ridiculously large [cola] mug at a white elephant gift exchange last Christmas. And now I have a chance to use it!
I asked her to make a prediction on how full the mug would be after it melted. We each made a prediction using her hair ties (hers on top, mine on bottom).
We took a couple measurements just for posterity’s sake.
I dunno, we might want them later. For now though, we just stuck with the predictions.
We then watched it melt. Slowly.
Sure enough, we were both way off:
Wow. All that snow and only that much actual moisture. I have some questions:
- Is this typical? What if we redid this in the afternoon after the snow had packed a little more?
- What if we used different shapes? Could this be a sort of alternative to the how-full-is-the-weirdly-shaped-glass problem?
- Going back to the original photo, how much water was on that table?
I also have a couple comments:
- Want an easy way to build buy in? Have kids make predictions on something and make sure it *takes a long time* for them to see if they’re right. Like I said, our delay was a couple hours and this pretty much took up the entire time. This was sort of analogous to Dan Meyer’s now-famous water tank filling task.
- This seems ripe for Estimations 180.
- I’m not sure what you could do if you live in a non-snow state. What would Texas use? Sand? Cicadas?
My daughter and I could have gone into the volume of the near-cylinder, which dimensions were useful and that sort of thing. But our two hours were up. It was time to go to school.
Update 4/16: I’ve got my Facebook friends eating out of the palm of my hand. *maniacal laugh*
Sort of related: a couple atmospheric scientist friends of mine started a Facebook page crowdsourcing, archiving, displaying, and discussing clouds: Community Cloud Atlas
You should join their Facebook page and tell them to get a twitter account.
8 thoughts on “What? How do YOU spend your two-hour school delays?, Water Content in a Snow Cylinder”
Too much fun. Just bonkers. Coming out of sunny CA, I haven’t given a lot of thought to phase changes of water except for liquid to gas so this whole thing hit a fun nerve for me.
Ha! Enjoy it while you’re in town, Dan. Be sure to get all your snow-related Act 1’s while you’re here!
Snow is great because 1) it melts in an “appropriate” amount of time and 2) the water content changes considerably from each snowstorm & season.
My wife once told me that “An inch of rain equals a foot of snow.” Also, their is a saying that 1 inch of rain is 10 inches of snow. I wonder if your evidence supports either saying. It might be an interesting thing to ask kids.