Happy Birthday, Washington!

Happy Birthday, Washington!

February 17, 2013

Today is George Washington’s birthday! He would be 281 years old today. Here are some interesting facts about George Washington (from buzzle.com):

  • He loved Ice cream! He had an ice cream cooler installed in his house.
  • He never went to college- his dad and older brother taught him
  • He was the only president that never lived in Washington, DC. He commuted by boat from Mount Vernon in Virginia
  • To this day, he is the only president to be elected unanimously, receiving all 69 electoral votes.
  • He disliked the idea of political parties, and did not belong to one
  • Washington state, named after him, is the only state to be named after an American

Our quarter has a picture of George Washington on it. But George Washington didn’t know that – he wouldn’t even know what a quarter was! When Washington was president in the late 1700’s, the currency in use was a British system full of pence, shillings, and farthings. George Washington’s face did not appear on the quarter until 1932! It was meant as a commemorative model to celebrate his bicentennial, but instead it became the long-lasting quarter design (Wikipedia.com).

Let’s do a math puzzle using the currency Washington would have used.

  • 4 farthings = 1 penny
  • 2 half pennies (pronounced hay-pennies) = 1 penny
  • 12 pence (pennies) = 1 shilling
  • 10 shillings and 6 pence = ½ guinea
  • 20 shillings = 1 pound
  • 21 shillings = 1 guinea

George left his home in Mount Vernon one morning, and on the way to work decided to stop and buy a few gifts for his wife, Martha. He bought her a checkerboard that cost 2 shillings, 6 pence, 1 farthings and a fancy new dress that cost 1/2 guinea and 9 shillings. He gave the shopkeeper 1 pound and 1 guinea.

  1. How much was his purchase in pence?
  2. What is the smallest amount of change he could have received?

Check back tomorrow, we’ll show our work and give the answers!