Superstorm Sandy volume task

Here’s a Superstorm Sandy volume task we recently created for 6th and 7th grade. We were struck by the disaster as well as this photo of a home in Cape May, New Jersey. We dug deeper to find an satellite view of the lot on Zillow, a real estate website. It provided the lot size which then helped us to create this task:

Superstorm Sandy hits Cape May, NJ.
Satellite view of lot from Zillow

On October 30, 2012 Superstorm Sandy hit Cape May, New Jersey. The storm washed sand from the beach up to nearby homes to a height of 6 ½ ft.

Consider the dimensions of the vacation home and lot, which is a small area of land. If the dumpster can only be filled to a height of 3 feet, how many dumpsters are needed to clear the sand away from the lot?

Images of the home, plus dimensions of the lot, home, and dumpster are included in the task so students can determine the volume of sand surrounding the home.

Since we are using this task to introduce volume, we created three resource cards to help students with their thinking. We are posing such questions and comments as: Did you consider the height of the sand? Is sand in the house? and Think about how much sand would fill a recycle bin; then relate this to how much sand would fill a dumpster.

We also created two extensions based on using a front end loader and a dump truck.

A front end loader approaches a pile of sand. The bucket’s capacity is 108 cubic feet.
The dump truck capacity is 324 cubic feet.
It takes 50 seconds for a front end loader to drive sand into the bucket, dump it into the dump truck, then return the bucket to its starting position.

Extension 1 determines how many “scoops” the front end loader must make. Extension 2 considers  the use of  a dump truck to determine the amount of time it will take to clear away all the sand.

The photos simulate how a front end loader drives into a pile of sand, scoops up a bucket full, unloads it into a dump truck, then returns to its starting position.

What our 8th grade math teachers like about this task is the potential to use higher algebraic reasoning by introducing more front end loaders and dump trucks to the task.

As is, we’re expecting students to do a lot of mathematical thinking with this task.


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