Sunday, January 17, 2010

The Leaky Faucet: A Living Math Lesson

So, in the midst of the holidays, our anniversary, buying a new van, and being sick (yes...we've been sick with colds. Again.) we discovered a leaky shower faucet. Dan's been knocking happy home owner jobs out left and right and last weekend when he announced he would be trouble shooting the drip with a leak rate, I told him it was a great moment in math. I know Dad...where does this all come from now?

Admittedly, though I thought this was going to be the ultimate math lesson, I really wasn't on board with why one needed to know how much water was leaking in order to fix a leak. Dan had the kids carefully measure the mass of water that had leaked in 10 minutes. I know, right? It's a pretty decent leak we have going in there. Tip: If you don't have a kitchen scale like this need one! Very homeschool friendly little device.

They used the weight of the water to figure out how much was much dripping per hour and per day and they worked it out over a year. Dan worked with E11 and R9 on unit conversions and how to use density to calculate mass and volume.
Which brings me back to the question of origin. Why do you need to know how much the faucet is leaking? Answer: So that when you make an adjustment, you can tell if things are getting better or worse or they are no different. Really?

Dan says that I view leaks in a binary sense. Either it is leaking (1) or it is not (0). While he is more of analog guy. Alright it is leaking...but how badly? Which reminds Dan of a funny tshirt he saw on a college guy this past summer. It said, "There 10 people in this world. Those who understand binary and those who don't."


Anonymous said...

It's like he can't help himself!

Surely he know that plumbers, the world over, survive without such mathematical conversions, and faucets still get fixed. Really they do!

But it made for a really cool math lesson. Lucky kids.


Heather said...

THIS is what I'm sayin' Jana!

And have just hit on what makes an engineer and engineer!

Anonymous said...

I think there is a special little spot in heaven for the wives of engineers where everything gets fixed without trying to figure it all out or always trying to find a better way to do it!

name withheld to protect the innocent

Heather said...

Amen to Ms. Anonymous!