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Posing Printing Papers Problems

At my University, students use their ID cards to print out papers and projects on the campus printers. Thus, a count can be maintained in multiple ways.

Consider the data from the Fall Term, 2010:

  • 13,321 students used the printers
  • The average printout per student was 134 sheets of paper (size was 8 1/2" x 11")
  • The University's cost for paper and toner was about $34,000
Problem A: Calculate the total amount of pages printed in a 4-term year...pile these pages in a single stack...how high is the stack (choose understandable units)?

Problem B: Calculate the total amount of pages printed in a 4-term year...spread them out to approximate a square (i.e. rectangular tiling using single-sheets)...what is the side length of the square and what is its area (again, choose understandable units)?

Problem C: Using your answers to Problems A and B, how many years of student printing at this same rate would equal a stack of paper that would reach from the earth to the moon? As an area, cover the entire surface of the earth? What would be the University's cost for each case?

Source: Academic Technology News, Winter 2011