thinking positively

While shovelling the 41 cm of snow that fell yesterday (after spending yesterday morning shoveling the 15 cm that fell on Friday night) I thought maybe there were educational advantages to this sort of thing. Here’s what I came up with:

1) Physics: an analysis of the forces required to lift snow and then throw it onto a pile that is over head height; demonstrations of levers (one hand as a fulcrum low on the shovel so you can push on the handle end and pitch the snow over your head) and inertia/momentum (throwing the snow forwards with an arc movement so it slides off the end of the shovel and travels)

2) Anatomy: which muscles are being used in the various processes of shoveling and pitching snow. (These are easier to identify the following morning when they are stiff.)**

3) History: digging out replica WWI trenches; the eager could include fire steps and dugouts for sleeping in. (My front walk is doing a passable imitation.)

4) survival skills: building snow caves and sleeping out overnight. (It doesn’t seem to be the right kind of snow for carving out snow blocks and building igloos. Pity.)

5) Geology: take core samples in the snow to determine the pattern of snowfall, melt, refreeze that has happened over the winter. I did this two years ago and it worked pretty well.

6) Aeolian processes (that’s the impact of wind on stuff; I know a geographer who studies this sort of thing in deserts): snow drift patterns and wind processes; comparing different shapes of snow drifts and explaining what might have been happening with the wind (e.g. why does it pile up in that corner by our back door)

7) Economics: Calculate the change in profit margins of snow removal contractors relative to overall snowfall. Graphing that would be interesting. (For those unaware of the business model, they charge a flat rate for the winter. Some have a clause allowing them to surcharge if total snowfall is over 3 metres.) A second project could be to investigate the economic benefits to those in the ski/snowshoe rental business, and ski resort business. Or the impact on the sale of condominiums. (I’ve seen a leaflet with the tag line “Sick of Shoveling” and an inside pitch for condos.) Advanced topics could include researching the emerging financial markets in weather futures and derivatives. (Yeah, that’s crazy. And they exist.)

Mostly, we are taking the old fashioned approach and staying indoors watching movies and reading books. Mat planted some seeds. I scrubbed the top of the stove.

It is now sunny. It looks quite beautiful. In fact, if it were January everyone might be in a much better mood about it. And at least we didn’t have that nasty “winter mix” that Andrea got.

*Winter mix seems to be the new term for ice pellets and freezing rain possibly mixed with snow. The new name makes it sound like salad greens or something but really it is nasty stuff falling out of the sky that makes any kind of travel extremely treacherous.

** The new ones seem to be triceps. Those haven’t hurt before so they must be required for getting it up over head height. I wish I didn’t know that. 

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2 thoughts on “thinking positively

  1. I know you probably won’t believe me , but we are jealous of your snow fall here. Especially for the economic aspect of two teenagers who used to rake in the $$ during storms like that!
    Sorry for the sore triceps, though, but enjoy. Now, I wish you a slowly warming spring, with no flooding!

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