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Why NumberSense is Important

When you read, are you able to stop and catch errors when they occur...grammatical errors? mathematical errors?

That is, do you wear your mathematical thinking cap when reading text that might include some data or logical statements?

As an example, consider the recent effort to turn California's 110-square-mile Owens Lake from a bed of dust to a mud bed. The intent is to install 200 miles of water pipelines that will keep the lake bed saturated.

Now, the key statement: "The project will require an estimated 4.5 million gallons of water annually--an amount roughly equal to the consumption of 60,000 households." Did you catch the math error?

Reader Gordon Foreman did, when the sentence appeared in the December 1, 2001, issue of Science News. His claim: "That would be 75 gallons per year for the 60,000 families referenced. Obviously, it should have read billion rather than million."

My question...Maybe it should have read 60 households, as that would have the same effect (but not sound as dramatic).

Source: Science News, 12/1/2001 and 2/9/2002.