Spooky season is starting! As we head into October and the costumes come out, check out some of the ways math 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 31 October, whether they realise 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 favourite treats.
Halloween’s impact on numbers goes a lot further than just the neighbourhood. In the United States, people have been getting dressed up and getting treats 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! Over the years, the spook-tacular holiday has gained popularity in Singapore, with more and more people and events celebrating it.
Halloween Spooky Stats (no tricks all treats)
In the United States, this huge tradition comes 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. What’s more, 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.
Interested in trick-or-treating in Singapore? To get you into the spooky spirit, places such as Chip Bee Gardens, Woodgrove neighbourhood in Woodlands, and Opera Estate are known for having Halloween events. If you and your child are going to a Halloween event, find ways to incorporate math even as you have a hauntingly good time. Count the pumpkin decorations you see in the mall, keep track of how much candy you get, and estimate how long it will last.
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 US. Check out these amazing facts about the Hoover Dam:
Hoover Dam by the numbers!
- The Hoover Dam is 221 metres high and 379 metres 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 largest reservoir in the US., and is 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.
17 October 1931: Math Helps Send a Famous Gangster to Prison
Al Capone was one of the meanest and most corrupt criminals of the 20th century. He was a famous mafia crime boss in Chicago during the 1920s and 1930s Prohibition era in the US. While Al Capone 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 Internal Revenue Service (IRS)! As hard-nosed police officers like Eliot 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.
Even though Capone boasted that people can’t legally tax illegal money, he was wrong. In 1913, the Revenue Act became law in October and introduced federal income tax to the US. 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, Capone was sentenced to 11 years in prison, and would serve them at one of the most notorious prisons in the US. 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 “This Month in Math” for September and find out more math activities and resources at our Spark Blog.
Looking to check out Spark Education for yourself? Spark Math classes are currently available. Spark Math is an education programme perfect for helping children use the skills they learnt all year in effective and engaging ways. Available for students from K2 to P5, Spark Math’s online programme features online classes, gamified lessons, and real-time feedback from experienced teachers. Try it for yourself by signing up to try a free demo class today!