Spooky season is starting! It’s October and as the leaves change and the costumes come out, we have to check out some of the ways math has helped make some of the biggest holidays and events in the month of October. Spark Math by Spark Education continues our series, “This Month in Math History October”. From how Halloween makes an impact on the economy, to the biggest Dam built in the 20th century, math has been used to create amazing treats and solve sinister plots all in the month of October!
Halloween is about Candy, Costumes and Calc-ghoul-ations!
Every Trick-or-Treat-loving kid becomes a math genius every October 31st, whether they realize it or not. From figuring out how fast they can go from house to house, to which houses give the most treats or coveted full-sized candy bars, and most importantly, how much candy can fit in their bag before it breaks, this is proof that candy makes math a lot more fun! With the right game plan and hard work kids can spend the night adding up all their favorite treats.
Halloween’s impact on numbers goes a lot further than just the neighborhood. People have been getting dressed up and getting treats in the United States for almost 100 years. Halloween only saw a dip in popularity when World War II put rations on sugar and other products. Once the war was over and the economy recovered in the early 1950’s Halloween became a monster-sized tradition for kids and parents that continues today!
Halloween Spooky Stats (no tricks all treats)
Huge traditions come with some giant numbers attached. People spend over 2 and a half billion dollars on over 500 million pounds of candy every year to give away (and accidentally snack on) throughout the trick-or-treating season. More chocolate is bought the week before halloween than both Valentine’s Day or Easter. But during Halloween season it isn’t just the candy companies profiting, Americans spend over 3 billion dollars on costumes and over 600 million dollars on pumpkins to carve or display.
As you and your family enjoy Halloween this year, and find ways to incorporate all that important seasonal math. Count pumpkins in your neighborhood, and most importantly, keep track of how much candy you get, and estimate how long it will lasts (don’t forget to figure in the pieces parents sneak after bedtime)!
October 1936: Hoover Dam Starts Producing Electricity
The Hoover Dam is one of the largest constructions built in the 20th century. It helps bring water and power across the west coast of the United States. Check out these amazing facts about the Hoover Dam
Hoover Dam by the numbers!
- The Hoover Dam is 726 feet high and 1,244 feet long.
- Over 21,000 people worked on building the Dam starting in 1931.
- The town of Boulder City, Nevada was built to house the workers building the Hoover Dam.
- The building of the dam formed Lake Mead, the country’s largest reservoir, able to hold up to 325,000 gallons of water.
- It currently produces around 4 billion kilowatt-hours (kWh) of hydroelectric power every year, to help power Nevada, Arizona and California.
October 17, 1931: Math Helps Send a Famous Gangster to Prison
Al Capone was one of the meanest and most corrupt criminals of the 20th century. While he was never found guilty for his more serious crimes, there was one crime fighting force that couldn’t be stopped. The accountants and mathematicians that make up the IRS! While hard-nosed police officers like Elliot Ness tried to take down mobsters on the streets, the Federal Government was building a case against Al Capone on the grounds that he had never filed his taxes.
While Capone boasted that people can’t legally tax illegal money, he was wrong. The Revenue Act of 1913, which also became law in October, introduced federal income tax to the United States. According to the law, money you receive as income, no matter if it was by legally or illegal means, must be reported to the IRS.
By following the numbers and unearthing Capone’s true income using accounting, math, and some serious sleuthing, lawyers were able to make a solid court case against him. After being found guilty of tax evasion, he was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and would serve them at one of the most notorious prisons in the U.S. and maybe in the world, the island prison of Alcatraz in Northern California.
Learn more ways math helps change the world with Spark Math
This October, there are tons of ways to see how math affects the world. If you’re looking for more fun and exciting math facts check out the “This Month in Math” for September and find out more fun math facts at our Spark Blog.
Looking to check out Spark Education for yourself? Spark Math Classes are currently available. Spark Math is an education program perfect for helping kids use the skills they learned all year in fun and engaging ways. Available for students from Pre-K to 6th grade, Spark Math’s online program features online classes, gamified lessons, and a real experienced teacher. Try it for yourself by signing up to try a free demo class today!