Task of the Week: The weight of DCU
This week our presented task is located in Ireland. At the campus of the Dublin City University (DCU) our MoMaTrE partner Christian Mercat created the task “The weight of DCU” and gave us an interview about this task and the value of using the MathCityMap app.
What´s the topic of the task?
On the campus you can find a huge DCU solid rock sign. I really wondered how much that could weight! So I investigated and figured out that one could estimate the surface of the letters and the depth of the sculpture.
How could you solve this problem?
You have to estimate the average width of the letters and their lengths. For example, C is a 2/3 portion of a circle of diameter 2 m and average with 30 cm. So is has a surface of 1.2 m². The modelling of D and U happens equally. Totally the sculpture has a surface of 4.5 m². The depth of the stone is 50 cm, which leads to a total volume of 2.25 m³. The density of the stone being 2.4 (that’s given in the first hint), the total weight of the sculpture is around 5400 kg. The estimation of the surface being tricky, I actually checked again by taking a picture from a distance and estimating numerically the total surface with the help of my computer.
What´s the didactic aim of the task?
Clearly, I want here to get first the students to have a rough estimation of the degree of magnitude, is it around hundreds of kg, a few tons or tens of tons. I give a broad « orange » zone between 3000 and 7500 kg for those trying to figure out by simply bracing their arms around the sculpture to get a sense of the volume, which I find fair enough for an answer. But then, trying to model each letter as simpler geometric shapes is really the main focus of this task. It can not be done exactly, the average width of each letter is a matter of debate, which is good. The « green » zone might be a little bit too tight (between 5000 and 6000) which is only a 20% width around the expert estimation, but the depth is without any doubt 1/2 meter so the uncertainty really is on the surface estimation.
Why do you use MathCityMap?
I love taking the pretext of a MathCityMap trail in order to stroll around on a campus or in a park, appreciating the scenery from this very specific perspective of looking around for objects that tickle my mathematical inclination, keeping open the scientific eye in me.