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An Average Day's Walk

based on 5 ratings
Author: Crystal Beran

Problem:

In this experiment, students should use advanced math skills to find out how far a person walks on an average day and determine how long it would take that person to walk around the world and to the moon at that rate.

The purpose of this experiment is to learn about the distance a person travels on an average day and to relate that to an understanding of the size of the Earth.

Materials:

  • A pedometer
  • (optional) a few volunteers

Procedure:

  1. Put a pedometer on as soon as you get up in the morning and wear it all day
  2. At the end of the day, record the distance you have walked on a chart such as the one below.
  3. Repeat steps 1-2 for three days.
  4. Average the results.
  5. If you are having a friend help, have them wear a pedometer for three days as well and average those results along with yours.
  6. Use the average distance walked in a day to make the rest of the calculations.
  7. Divide the distance around the Earth by the number of miles walked in a day to determine how many days it would take to walk around the Earth.
  8. Divide the number of days by 365. This will give you the number in years.
  9. Divide the distance from the Earth to the moon by the number of miles walked in a day to determine how many days it would take to walk to the moon.
  10. Divide the number of days by 365. This will give you the number in years.
  11. Optional: Research other distances to find out how long it would take to walk to these places. You could find the distance to another country, to the sun, to the nearest star or any other place.

Why?

​It isn’t easy to conceive of the size of something as large as the Earth. We spend most of our lives seeing only a small portion of the planet and zip around in cars and airplanes when we need to travel further. The Earth is approximately 25,000 miles (40,000 kilometers) around. Because we normally think in terms of less than 100 miles at a time (and often less than one mile at a time) it can be difficult to think about the size of the entire Earth. The distance between the Earth and the moon is even harder to wrap our heads around at on average 240,000 miles (384,000 kilometers). Comparing the average distance a person walks in a given day to the vast distances in planetary systems can help us to relate these huge numbers to something we can understand.

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