Charity Logo

Charity Logo

Charity of the Month


In December I am riding for Heifer International. Founded in 1944, Heifer International works with communities around the world to end hunger and poverty and to care for the Earth. Its approach is more than a handout. Heifer provides animals (e.g., heifers, goats, water buffalos, chickens, rabbits, fish, and bees) and training to impoverished people in over 30 countries. The animals can give milk, meat, or eggs; provide draft power; or form the basis of a small business. Communities make their own decisions about what crops, animals, and market strategies make sense for their everyday conditions and experiences.

Heifer International is based on 12 Cornerstones, such as Sustainability; Genuine Need and Justice; and Gender and Family Focus. Perhaps the best known Cornerstone is Passing on the Gift, in which Heifer recipient families pass on the offspring of their animals to others in need. In this way, whole communities can raise their standard of living.

A donation to Heifer International also can make a wonderful alternative holiday gift. Instead of yet another sweater for Grandma that she really doesn’t need, why not donate a Heifer animal or a share of an animal in her honor? Does your child really need so many new toys? Instead of five new toys, give him/her three new toys and a Heifer flock of chicks. Heifer has honor cards to let your loved ones know of your gift on their behalf.

I have set up a Team Heifer page to support Heifer International through A Year of Centuries. My goal is to raise $500. Please make your donation through If you would like more information about Heifer’s work, please visit Whether you give to honor a loved one or make a regular donation, thank you for taking steps to transform the world for the better.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Valentine's Day Math

For fourteen years while I worked in Monticello, I loved coaching MATHCOUNTS at Piedmont Academy.  I’m one of those seemingly rare people who like working with middle school students.  They are young enough not to be too cool, but they are old enough that they are really starting to understand some things.  Maybe I’m just an overgrown 12-year-old myself.

Last March I began a new job in Macon, and with my commute, I’m not able to coach anymore, unfortunately.  (However, I’m so happy that I can continue as the Middle Georgia chapter MATHCOUNTS coordinator, which I have been doing since 1998.)  I look back very fondly at my years of coaching.  Over those years, I mostly used the MATHCOUNTS school handbook to coach my mathletes, but sometimes I came up with my own materials to highlight a particular theme.  One time we had a Pot o’ Gold scavenger hunt for St. Patrick’s Day, in which the students followed clues and solved math problems around the school.  Another time we solved greyhound math problems, and I brought in my own greyhounds so that the students could meet actual retired racing greyhounds.  Several times I dressed up as Madame Pi and “read” the students’ minds.  (This was actually a neat math trick.)  Once we even played Survivor, where the mathletes solved math problems as their challenges.

Since today is Valentine’s Day, I’ll share the Valentine’s math questions that I created one year for my mathletes.  (I’ll post the answers tomorrow.)

1) Edna and Ethel were running a kissing booth.  If Edna received twice as many kisses as Ethel, and together they received 111 kisses, how many kisses did Edna receive?

2) Letters spelling I LOVE YOU are written on slips of paper, one letter per slip.  The slips are placed in a hat, and one is drawn at random.  What is the probability of drawing a vowel?  Express your answer as a common fraction.

3) Cupid is target practicing with his bow and arrow.  His circular target has a radius of (QT)^0.5.  What is the area of his target.  Express your answer in terms of pi.

4) Forrest Gump is selecting 2 chocolates from a box of 12 chocolates.  If each chocolate is different, how many combinations of chocolates can he get?

5) Juliet wants to trick Romeo into thinking that she is dead, so she is getting a sleeping potion from the apothecary.  If she needs 1.5 ounces of potion per 25 pounds of body weight, and Juliet weighs 110 pounds, how many ounces of sleeping potion should Juliet purchase?  Express your answer to the nearest tenth.

6) The lower station of a cable car system is 2400 feet from the base of Lovers’ Leap.  2600 feet of cable extend from the lower station to the top of Lovers’ Leap.  If Sam simply jumps off of Lovers’ Leap rather than taking the cable car down, how much distance will he save?

7) At the Valentine banquet 10 women ate both hogs and quiches, but the 24 men ate only hogs because real men don’t eat quiche.  None of the women ate only hogs.  If 56 people attended the Valentine banquet, how many women ate quiches only?

8) Gary is considering going to the Sadie Hawkins dance, which is 10 miles from his house.  He can ride his bicycle 15 miles per hour.  Mary has invited him to the dance and will pick him up at his house on her bicycle-built-for-two.  If together they can ride 18 miles per hour, how many minutes will Gary save by going to the Sadie Hawkins dance with Mary instead of going stag?  Round your answer to the nearest minute.

9) Seven out of eight blind dates end up a disaster.  Of the remaining blind dates, three out of four couples wind up getting married.  If Helga gets set up on a blind date with Hagar, what is the probability that they will get married?  Round your answer to the nearest whole percent.

10) Buffy claimed that she would love Biff 4 Ever.  However, she broke up with him after only three weeks.  What percent of 4 Ever did Buffy actually love Biff?  Round your answer to the nearest whole number.

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