Many Dogs! Many Paws!

Sled Dog Ed

Sled Dog Ed

Dear Teachers,

The race is on!! How many of you have watched the re-start of the 2016 Iditarod Dog Sled Race? Did you see those happy dogs ready to run from Willow to Nome? Many had their booties on, a few with T-shirts, and one team’s lead dogs even donned their goggles! It was amazing to admire the strength and muscle in the legs of those canine athletes. I remember those days waiting in that starting chute for the countdown to head out on the Iditarod Trail. We were so eager to go and do well for our musher. Numerous dogs have been in that same chute over the past 44 years.

Reminiscing about all of those dogs, prompted me to think of a mathematical investigation for your students revolving around the number of dogs and paws that started this year’s race in Willow.

With 85 dog teams starting the race in Willow, Alaska, how many dogs actually took off from the starting chute? Now remember, not all teams started with 16 dogs. Some had fewer on their gang line with Zoya DeNure having the minimum of 12. Use Race Center>Race Standings>Race Logs>Log 2 to help find the data necessary for solving this problem.

Answer: 1,346 dogs

*78 teams had 16 dogs. 16 X 78=1248

*3 teams had 15 dogs.   15 X 3= 45    (Kristin Knight Pace, Mary Helwig, Rob Cooke)

*2 teams had 14 dogs.   14 X 2=28     (Kim Franklin, Cindy Gallea)

*1 team had 13 dogs.     13 X 1=13     (Michael Williams, Jr.)

*1 team had 12 dogs.     12 X 1=12     (Zoya DeNure)

Therefore, 1248 + 45 + 28 + 13 + 12=1,346 dogs


Now that you know the number of dogs that took off from the starting chute in Willow, how many total paws ran across that snow covered surface on re-start day?

Answer: 1,346 dogs X 4 paws each = 5,384 paws

Variation to obtaining the number of paws at the start of race:

16 dogs X 4 paws = 64 paws X 78 teams = 4992

15 dogs X 4 paws = 60 paws X 3 teams = 180

14 dogs X 4 paws = 56 paws X 2 teams = 112

13 dogs X 4 paws = 52 paws X 1 team = 52

12 dogs X 4 paws = 48 paws X 1 team = 48

Therefore, 4992 + 180 + 112+ 52 + 48 = 5,384 paws

Teachers, have your students save the answers to both of these mathematical questions and compare them to the number of dogs and paws that actually finish the race under the Burled Arch in Nome. At that time your students can determine the amount of difference between the start and finish numbers and calculate, as a percent, how much of a decrease there was at the finish.

It is not an “im-paw-ssible” feat to figure out these answers. Teamwork and determination by your students will help solve the problems. Jump right in and have fun!

~Sled Dog Ed