Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Presidential Math Problems

I teach algebra and statistics online, so I'm always looking for fun math-related problems or sites. I happened across this one with some good presidential math problems. Obviously too low level for my students, but would be great for lower level teachers.

Here is this one on the Louisana Purchase:
During the presidency of Thomas Jefferson, the United States succeeded in purchasing from France a large body of land known as the Louisiana Territory. The purchase was called the Louisiana Purchase.

On April 30, 1803, Robert Livingston, ambassador to France, and James Monroe, special envoy, concluded a treaty in Paris in which the United States purchased from France the whole of the Louisiana territory for $15,000,000.

The territory (see Figure 1), approximately 800,000 square miles, included the Mississippi River Valley and most of the present-day Midwest, almost doubled the size of what was then the United States.

One acre is 43,560 square feet or 4,840 square yards. There are exactly 640 acres in a square mile. How many acres were purchased? What was the cost per acre?

Today, an acre of land can cost anywhere from $100 to $1,000,000. Assuming $500 per acre as a very low price, how much would the Louisiana Purchase have cost at this rate?

The chart in Figure 2 illustrates the value of money between 1800 and 1999. It illustrates that $100 in 1999 had less value than in previous years. For example, $100 in 1999 is the equivalent of $10 in 1920.

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