Math for Real: How Old Is That Cactus?

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  • 1 Kennesaw State University
  • 2 University of Georgia

Large cacti called saguaros (pronounced so-WAH-ros) have astounding growth rates and long life spans. Kelly took a picture of Zandra standing next to a saguaro. They then wondered about the height and the age of the cactus in the photograph. Use the following information to help them satisfy their curiosity.


Kelly W. Edenfield, teaches mathematics and mathematics education.

Edited by Erik Tillema,, who teaches at Indiana University in Indianapolis. This department highlights math concepts in the context of problem solving in the real world. Readers are encouraged to submit ideas or work with someone they know to create a manuscript. Send to

Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School


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