Holidays and Annual Events

Investigations that relate to regular annual events.

The Times Square Ball

On Thursday evening, December 31st, 2015 at 12:59 pm, much of the world will be watching the iconic Times Square Tower’s New Year’s Eve ball drop 77 feet to the roof of the One Times Square Building in Manhattan, NY.…

Winter holidays

Christmas tree lights – Students first guess how many lights would be required to decorate this tree.  The class finds the mean and median of those guesses.  Then they brainstorm and refine their guesses. Lastly they figure out how large a…

Saving wrapping paper

Dr. Sara Santos is a popular mathematician and speaker on mathematics.  She has worked out a method for wrapping boxes (rectangular prisms) as efficiently as possible. (Watch the video above)  Her method was written up in this article in Mental Floss and…

Soda Menorah

Happy Holidays! This Soda Menorah was on display in a Florida Target store.  It is made up entirely of 12-packs of Coca-Cola products. What questions do you have? Start out the activity by giving kids 30 seconds to look at…

Why does the date of Hanukkah keep changing?

Just updated for 2016! Saturday evening, December 24th, is the first night of Hanukkah this year. I think it was much earlier in December last year. Why isn’t it always on the same date? Students look at the Hebrew calendar…

Pre-Thanksgiving activity ideas

Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade – Students study a map of the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, describe, measure and hypothesize why this route was chosen. Then they calculate how long each band will be marching and what time they will arrive at…

Not enough mashed potatoes

Using his famous mashed potato recipe, Brian has asked students to change decimals to fractions, to calculate ingredient measures for various-sized Thanksgiving gatherings, to explain their thinking in calculating these figures and to judge how many servings could be created…

How should I cook my turkey?

Should I oven bake it, deep fry it or barbecue and smoke it?  When do I have to wake up to begin preparations? How long will the cooking take?  How much will it cost?  How many can I feed?  Will there…

Vampire bats

Ooooo. Scary!  This is a slightly didactic activity on vampire bats.  We’ve given lots of interesting metric and customary unit facts and asked students to relate those sizes to quantities that they are familiar with.  Simply enjoy the season with this…

Which is the best deal on candy?

Clicking on any of the above images will open the image larger in a new window. We found big mixed bags of candy at really good prices … we think. Students are asked to decide which would be the best deal…

Labor Day

In this short activity, students learn the meaning and history of Labor Day as they look for patterns emerging from the Labor Day dates over the past years. Students then use those observed patterns to predict future dates of the…

How much does it cost to go back to school?

Back to school spending is huge and students might not appreciate what it costs to send them back to, essentially, their job of learning.  In this activitiy students decide what equipment and supplies are necessary, estimate how much that will…

Shooting stars coming soon, 2015

Conditions will be favorable for excellent views of the Perseids meteor showers in early mid-August.  Let students read charts, analyze data, work with percent of moon visibility at each phase, and understand apparent magnitude in the night sky with this…

Can you create a fireworks display on your calculator?

Let your students experiment with their graphing calculators to create a nice fireworks display?  We’ve written a brief activity that questions students about manipulating parabolas, adjusting their calculator windows, and helping them celebrate whatever. Or consider using Desmos or Geogebra to create these fireworks. Enjoy!

Odds of winning the Triple Crown

American Pharaoh won the Triple Crown !!! How do you calculate compound probability?  Skip the betting odds and deal only with the odds that one horse could win 3 amazing races.  June 6th is the Belmont Stakes race … the…