How Long Is It?

Hello Fellow Educators!

The season of Fall is nearing an end and hopefully you are continuing to “fall” into the depths of the Iditarod Dog Sled Race in Alaska. As a retired sled dog, I had plenty of time to rest up this past summer and travel around with my owners and children from the kennel. Everywhere I went I kep

Sled Dog Ed

Sled Dog Ed

t my eyes wide open, ears alert, and mind active to capture any new ideas for teachers on how to use the Iditarod as a tool for teaching the components of your curriculum.

Just the other day, while snuggled on the couch in my owner’s home, I happened to see and hear a football game on the television. The announcer kept talking about various measurements in the game, and I saw people on the sidelines measuring distances on the field from one point up to the football. This sparked an idea in my brain about the use of measurement in the Iditarod race. Measurement is all around us and can definitely be found in numerous capacities with parts of the Iditarod race.

I asked the children at the kennel to talk with their classmates at school to brainstorm a list of any way measurement might be used in the Iditarod race, preparing for the race, training, etc. They came up with numerous ideas. Here were a few of them:

Class Ideas of Measurement

Perhaps your class would want to brainstorm a list as well! How many different ways can they identify?

One area of measurement in the Iditarod that seems to be of interest or amazing to many students and educators is the length of a sled dog team including the sled. When you see pictures on the website or in videos, the actual distance does not seem long at all. However, the distance from musher to lead dog is approximately 80 feet. To put that in perspective, our kennel has a 40 foot windmill on the premises. If two of those windmills were stacked together, that would be 80 feet – the distance from musher to lead dog. WOW!!!! That is a long way to manage a team of dogs with only voice commands or whistling.

I thought it would be a great idea for students to explore and estimate the distance of 80 feet. This could be a whole math lesson on converting 80 feet to inches, to yards, and then using various methods to measure off their estimate of 80 feet. I have attached a possible worksheet, How Long Is It?, that you could use or revise, depending on the age of your students, to help them explore how long the distance of 80 feet would be.

You could extend this activity by heading outside and seeing how many students lined up next to one another would it take to make 80 feet? Estimate the amount of students first and then find the actual amount. I am sure that you can think of many other ways of exploration!!!!! As for me, I only have six feet to travel for my kibbles and bits for the night. That should be about 3 or 4 steps until I am there. Yum, yum, yum!!!!! Until next time, happy measuring!!!

~Sled Dog Ed