Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


hannah, a student:

I am writing an essay for an english class and we are supposed to make a mental picture for other readers.
I am writing about a fire that occurred in 2003 that grew to be 61,776 acres.
To show a reader just how big that was i was wondering if it is possible to find out how many football fields
would be in 61,776 acres.

First Response:

Hi Hannah,

To be able to find how many football fields are in 61 776 acres, we will divide the area the fire spread by the area of a football field. An American football field is 120 yards long by 53.3 yards wide, so the area is 6396 sq yards. We have to make sure that both areas are in common units and one acre comprises 4840 sq yards so

61 776 acres x 4840 = 298 995 840 sq yards

So the number of football fields is

Football fields = 298 995 840 sq yards / 6396 sq yards = 46 747.3171 football fields

Hope this helps,


Second Response:

Football fields are too small to help here -- US football fields are only about 1 and a third acres. To get a rough estimate multiply your 62000 by 3 and divide by 4. That's still too big a number to grasp easily. Why not use square miles? One square mile equals 640 acres, so your fire covered about 100 square miles. Compare that to a city close to where you live of about 300,000 people that's a square shape of 10 miles on a side.

J. Chris Fisher

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