>Leaf math


The leaves have definitely fallen and I’m going to have my kids do some counting for money. I figure $1 for every 100,000 leaves should do the trick. Of course, it only counts if they get the leaves in the bags!

So how do they do it? Powers of ten, that’s how!

First I have them each make a pile of 100 leaves. Then I have them make a new pile that seems the same size. If that one ends up within 5% of 100, I approve it and then they make 10 piles of 100 leaves. Then they gather that together and take a good look at how big that is. Then they make 9 more such piles and look at what 10,000 leaves look like. Then they make 10 piles of those to see what one dollar looks like. My guess is that one of those paper garden leaf bags will hold somewhere around a dollar’s worth. For my yard that’ll mean no more than $10-$15 out of my pocket, a clean yard, and kids who can brag to their teachers that they counted to a million over the weekend.

About Andy Rundquist

Professor of physics at Hamline University in St. Paul, MN
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