Monday, August 15, 2016

The Math of Dunkirk.

Boats, Fishing, Fishermen, Itacemirim   I am getting ready to head out on a boat trip so I thought I would share with you a historical math problem, applied to my locale.  I think it was during my second year at this high school, the teachers got together to create a cross curriculum unit on World War II.

You would think the math component was hard but it really wasn't.  The hardest part was finding the numbers so the students could do the calculations.

One important event of World War II was the Dunkirk evacuation where a fleet of over 800 boats moved  338,226 men in an 8 day period while loosing 68,000 men.  This lends itself to some wonderful math.

Students can calculate:
1. Ratio of deaths to survivors.
2. Average number of men moved per boat per day.
3. Average number of men moved per boat per hour.

Dunkirk is about 50 miles from Dover.  There were actually three different routes that could be used but each had dangers, so I looked at an average.  If you wanted you could have students calculate using all three distances for the problems.

I asked my students which village is about 50 miles away from here by water.  Once we picked the destination, the students had to figure out how many boats would be available for use and the average number of passengers each boat could carry.

So for this project, students had to determine:
1. How long would a round trip take.
2.  How long would it take to move 300,000 people using the boats available in the village.
3.  What is the best way to set up the fleet so there is a continuous flow of boats moving because we are on a river that has to keep track of tides.
4.  Could be house these 300,000 people in the village as they arrived.
5.  Average number of men moved per day
6. Average number of men moved per hour.

Students were required to create a final write up with all the answers from the 6 questions.  They had to include a map along with a write up and a conclusion answering the question "Could we have carried out this type of rescue?"  They had to justify their answer.

Over the next couple weeks, I plan to share a couple other math activities from World War II.