I love the strange and unusual, actually that sums up myself and my friends quite well. My good friend Sam Moffie is on a quest. How to make history something that is more understandable.

It is often difficult to grasp history, or any school subject, I remember a math/physics problem involving a bath tub, the taps were open and the owner had forgotten to put the plug in. The question was how long would it be before the bath tub overflowed? I didn’t like the question because it seemed to have no relevance to the real world.

Relevance is an important word. It is relevant to learning. A key is to understand numbers. To make them relevant. Most people have no problem with small numbers, $1, $5, $10, $100, the purchasing power is understood.

When the numbers get larger the more complex it becomes to visualize the meaning of them. What does a million look like? Or in Sam’s project, what does 6 million look like.

Sam is a teacher in Youngstown, Ohio, and this year he wants to cover the Holocaust. 6 million souls were brutally exterminated by Hitler’s Nazi regime.

There are some that say ‘it was 70 years ago, who cares’? There are other, myself included that say ‘it was only 70 years ago, we should all care’. I am going to digress for a short while, well this is my essay, my web site, and it is not a homework assignment from Sam Moffie or any other teacher. History is important, by understanding the past, we can make better sense of the present, and possibly predict the future.

Sam wants to collect 6 million penny’s, one for each life lost. All proceeds going to the National Holocaust Museum.

After talking to Sam I put on my math hat, what would 6 million penny’s look like?

The US Mint web site states that a penny weighs 2.5 grams, is 1.52 mm thick and has a diameter of 19.05 mm. I found it interesting that a government web site would opt to give the data in metric rather than imperial measurements. One reason might be that the US Mint wants to make the information understandable to the rest of the world. There are only 3 countries still using imperial weights and measures, the US, Liberia and Myanmar (Burma).

Anyway, back to the plot. I got out my abacus and did some calculations. If you put the penny’s in a single stack it would be 1,120,000 mm’s high. In centimeters that would be 112,000 cm. Lets convert this imperial. One centimeter is 0.393701 inches. So our pile of penny’s will be 44,094 inches high, which is 3674 feet high or .7 of a mile high. Three Empire State Buildings put one on top of the other still isn’t as tall as our pile of penny’s

Of course a pile of penny’s that high likely would weigh a lot. I’ll spare you the math, the answer is 16.5 tons. So our lowly penny’s weigh a little more than 8 full size cars.

In retrospect the idea of having a pile of penny’s is not a good one, a gust of wind and you have a 16 ton penny shower raining down on your head.

Maybe a better idea would be to spread them out on the ground in neat rows and columns. The penny has a diameter of 19.05 mm, that is .75 of an inch. So 16 penny’s in a row will be exactly 12 inches. And 16 rows would give us a grid measuring 12 inches by 12 inches or one square foot.

We have used 256 penny’s to cover the square foot. But we have lots left, in fact be can cover 23,437.5 square feet. A court is 4,700 square feet , so we can cover 5 basketball courts with our humble penny’s.

When you consider that each penny represents a life, you start to see the magnitude of the holocaust.

If you would like to help teacher Sam Moffie with his quest please send your penny’s to:

Pennies Project
Summit Secondary
2800 Shady Run Rd
Youngstown, OH 44502


Simon Barrett


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