Math in the News: Issue 97


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This Math in the News explores the construction of the iconic landmark the Washington Monument and its recent renovations due to the 2011 earthquake. Students will be able to convert dollar values based on inflation and determine the combined expense of the Washington Monument between construction and recent renovations.

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Math in the News: Issue 97

  1. 1. Issue 97 The Washington Monument: Repaired
  2. 2. The Washington Monument was constructed in honor of its namesake and founding father George Washington. It was intended to evoke the awe and respect the nation felt for its first leader. (Source: National Park Service) Source: National Park Service
  3. 3. The monument went through two phases of construction: one private (1848-1854) and one public (1876- 1884).The ambitious design made it expensive to build, and funds ran out until Congress assumed responsibility in 1876. (Source: National Park Service)
  4. 4. The monument was dedicated on February 21, 1885. At the time of completion, it was the tallest building in the world at 555 feet, 5 1/8 inches. (Source: National Park Service)
  5. 5. Check out this short video for a little more history on the iconic Washington Monument.
  6. 6. On August 23, 2011, the DC Metropolitan area sustained an earthquake with a magnitude of 5.8.The earthquake caused considerable damage to the Washington Monument.
  7. 7. The monument was not built to sustain earthquakes, in part due to its rigid stone structure and in part due to its high center of gravity. Survey of the damage concluded the monument needed extensive repairs and was closed indefinitely. (See Math in the News: Issue 31) Cracks in the stone of the monument after the 2011 earthquake, National Park Service
  8. 8. After nearly 3 years of repairs, the monument is set to reopen on May 12, 2014. National Park Service Earth Cam
  9. 9. A considerable amount of money has been spent on the Washington Monument since its beginnings nearly 150 years ago. Let’s take a look at the costs of building the structure and the cost of repairs.
  10. 10. The total cost of constructing the Washington Monument was $1,187,710 in 1884. Keep in mind, due to inflation, $1 in 1884 is equivalent to $23.81 today.
  11. 11. The total costs of reconstructing the Washington Monument after the 2011 earthquake added up to $15,000,000. (Source: Campaign for National Mall)
  12. 12. With the information we have, we can answer the question: What was the cost of constructing the monument relative to the cost of the earthquake repairs?
  13. 13. First, let’s set up a proportion to determine the cost of initial construction in today’s dollars. Remember, $1 in 1884 equals $23.81 today and the monument took $1,187,710 to build.
  14. 14.  How would you say the proportion in words? “$1 is to $23.81 as $1,187, 710 is to x."  How would you write the proportion using mathematical symbols? 1 23.81 = 1,187,710 x 1 23.81 = 1,187,710 x
  15. 15. How can we solve this proportion? Cross Multiply 1 23.81 = 1,187,710 x
  16. 16. 1• x = 1,187,710• 23.81 x = 28279375.1 1 23.81 = 1,187,710 x
  17. 17. Accounting for inflation, in today’s currency, the total cost of the original construction of the Washington Monument was $28,279,375.10!
  18. 18. In today’s currency, how much more money did it cost to build the Washington Monument than to renovate the monument? Cost of construction – Cost of Renovation 28,279,375.1 – 15,000,000 = 13,279,375.1 Construction of the Washington Monument was $13,279,375.10 more expensive than the earthquake renovations.
  19. 19. What percent of the cost of the original construction did it cost to make the repairs? To find the percentage a part of a whole, we use the following formula: Part ÷ Whole = Percent (in decimal form) Cost of Repairs ÷ Cost of Original Construction = Percent
  20. 20. 15,000,000 ÷ 28,279,375.10 = 0.5304 0.5304 = 53.04% The cost of repairing the Washington Monument was 53.04% of the original cost.
  21. 21.  Consider the following questions as you continue to explore the history of the Washington Monument: • What other renovations have taken place since the monument was built? • How much did those renovations cost (in dollar amounts in that year, and in current dollar amounts due to inflation)? • How much money total has been spent on the Washington Monument since its construction began?