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December Math Activities

From the Energy Kids pages website -

"The type of lights you choose is very important! As a general rule, bigger bulbs use more electricity. For every hour they are turned on, the big (C-7) bulbs use between 4 and 10 watt-hours per bulb. This is at least 10 times the electricity used in an hour by 0.4 watt mini-light bulbs. The new Light Emitting Diode (LED) holiday lights are the biggest energy savers, drawing only a tenth as much electricity as mini-lights, at 0.04 watts per bulb! Of course, LED lights are slightly more expensive than mini-lights. For some people, the savings on their energy bill may not make up for the added cost. Besides saving energy, LED lights have some other advantages that may make their added cost seem worth it. When one bulb on a string of LED lights goes bad, the rest of the light string will still work. So there is no searching for that one bad light keeping the rest of the string from operating! Plus, LED bulbs should last at least 5 years, and they never get hot.

More lights require more energy. It only makes sense that your electricity use will go up as you add more strings of lights. Keep in mind that not all light strings are the same. Big (C-7) bulbs come in strings of 25, while mini-lights may have 35 to 200 bulbs per string, and LED lights may have 35 to 100 lights per string. The popular, icicle style light strings use mini-lights but because of their shape, usually require many more strings to cover the same distance as a regular string of mini-lights. The number of light strings used for decorating is a matter of taste. You can compare the amount of electricity that will be used by a string of each type of lights in an hour, by multiplying the number of watts per bulb by the number of bulbs per string:

A string of C-7 bulbs: 4 watts per bulb x 25 bulbs per string = 100 watts per hour

A string of mini-lights: 0.4 watts per bulb x 100 bulbs per string = 40 watts per hour

A string of LED lights: 0.04 watts per bulb x 100 bulbs per string = 4 watts per hour

Do the Calculations:

1. The lighted tree at your house has 5 strings of lights. (You select the type.)
Your family leaves it on from 5pm to 10pm.

How much electricity does it use in one day?


The tree is up from Dec 1st to Jan 1st. How much electricity has it used?


List three strategies to conserve electricity during the holidays.



2. In December, there is a decided preference for evergreen trees that have a pyramidal shape.

Draw a pyramidal shape.



What 2 dimensional geometric figure does a pyramid resemble?


Name another geometric shape that is part of the December holiday symbolism.


3. In December, people in North America experience the winter solstice.

Do the Time Marches On! worksheet at MathFLIX video



4. Do MathFLIX's Infinite Pine Trees activity watch the videos Part 1| Part 2 - Print the worksheet


5. I always enjoy watching a performance of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens.

Dickens wrote A Christmas Carol in Prose, Being a Ghost Story of Christmas in staves.
Interestingly, he financed the first printing himself.

a. How many Christmas Pasts have accumulated since the tale was first enjoyed?


b. How many decades has it been since the tale was first published?


c. How many scores have passed since people first enjoyed the story?


d. How many centuries have come and gone?


e. When should we celebrate A Christmas Carol's bicentennial?

How old will you be then?


Dickens was disappointed with the profit of his first printing.

f. Currency conversion challenge: How much would he have made, in US dollars, today? (Ignore inflation)



g. There are many 4's in the story. Challenge yourself, how many "fours" are there?

Advice: Write them down as you find them.


6. Watch a math video at Kahn Academy that applies to what you are studying in math class right now.
Rate the video on helpfulness and clarity. 0 - (I am still lost) to 5 (Now, I get it!).


Additional Challenges:

Calculate the number of gifts given in the Twelve Days of Christmas

Dickens of a Resumé project Who would you hire? | Science Observations Skill Builders - do one that is winter related

holly berries and leaves in a line

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Updated 11/2023, first posted 2008 Cindy O'Hora

Creative Commons License This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License

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