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Minutes from ME

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MUNGRY MATH

For many years a favorite poem among our Lower School crowd has been Hungry Mungry by Shel Silverstein from his collection titled "Where the Sidewalk Ends", published in 1976. The poem tells of a ridiculously voracious young man, named Mungry, and his crazy exploits in eating.

After reading the whole poem for the umpteenth IZE=4> mathematical fascination with the sheer amounts of stuff Mungry eats. Of course we yield to this temptation. We ask ourselves some questions about the first verse where Mungry is eating conventional foods - and a lot of them!

  • Just how many servings did this young man eat?
  • How many normal, hungry people would this number of servings satisfy?
  • Did he eat a balanced huge meal?
  • Which food group did he eat most of? Which least?
  • Can we offer Mungry any nutritional advice beyond the obvious advice to "LIGHTEN UP!"?

While reading or listening to the poetic cadence of Hungry Mungry is superb, we cannot pick up the numerical facts from our reading or listening - we must TABULATE his consumption. We use spreadsheet software to build our table but obviously a pencil and paper can be used with the same result.

PROCEDURE

The "HM Quantity" column in the chart below shows the poetic description of the food eaten. It is immediately noticeable that we must examine some items so that we will be dealing with standardized and therefore comparable values. Our class discussions as to suitable serving amounts can be very interesting and variable from grade to grade.

So in the "Servings" column uncertain amounts such as "one shank" or "some" have been converted or translated into a number of servings and amounts considered appropriate, for instance a dozen tomatoes could surely be reapportioned to six servings. A bowl of grits must contain "zillions" of corn kernels (also defined by some students as "infinity") and to be reasonable we convert it to two servings per bowl..

The remaining columns in the following table show the grouping categories we chose and the corresponding values for this young man's disgusting consumption.

Hungry Mungry's Supper Feast
Food NameHM Quantity ServingsSoupSeafoodMeatDairyVegetableDessertDrinks
Mushroom Soupone bowl 11       
Roasted Porkone slice1  1    
Stewed Tomatoesone dozen 6     6  
Devilled Eggs2713    27   
Shrimps155 1     
Baked Potatoes9 9      9   
Chicken Legs32 32   32    
Lambone shank 17  17    
Boiled Hamone ham 21  21    
Gritstwo bowls 4     4  
Black-Eyed Peassome 2     2  
Chocolate Shakes44       4
Angel Cakes832 1     32 
Custard Pies954      54 
Muenster Cheesesome 6    6   
Teaten pots 20       20
           
SERVINGS   117133218624
           
         TOTAL237

OBSERVATIONS

We can see how useful tables are in answering the strictly numerical questions.

  • Yes, he really did eat 237 servings.
  • This amount would feed anywhere from 79 to 118 hungry people since you must factor in such variables as the ratio of hungry children vs. adults, food preferences and so on.

When it comes to answering comparative questions and trend questions we do better using CHARTS.

Yes, the Hungry Mungry data simply begs for PIE CHART REPRESENTATION.

Try PIE.

Please notice that the pie chart labels for Soup and Seafood are omitted because those amounts are so relatively tiny.

A Hungry Mungry BAR CHART is also useful.

The Bar version.

The Bar Chart shows more clearly the presence of Soup and Seafood.

MORE OBSERVATIONS

  • Could we have predicted that vegetables eaten would be relatively small?
  • This meal is way out of balance, even after it's reduced to sensible amounts it's still way out of balance.
  • Mungry should cut out the lamb and chicken altogether and find some green vegetables to take their place.

CONCLUSION

Mungry would do himself a huge favor by checking the following sites.


NOTE: If "Where The Sidewalk Ends" is not among your available reading materials this charting approach will work with Old MacDonald (categories such as color, size, number of feet, etc.) or The Twelve Days of Christmas (animals, humans, musicians, dancers, men, women).

We will leave the remaining verses of the poem unexamined (numerically, that is) and we always, always, thank Shel Silverstein for the sheer fun and enjoyment his writings give us.

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