Additional Math Pages & Resources

Thursday, July 12, 2012

Bastille Day Math July 14

Bastille Day celebrates the storming of La Bastille prison by French revolutionaries and mutinous troops who dismantled the Bastille and set free the seven prisoners inside in 1789. The Bastille was a medieval fortress that was designed and built around the city of Paris for protection. This royal fortress had come to symbolize the tyranny of the Bourbon monarchs. The dramatic action on July 14, 1789 signaled the beginning of the French Revolution, a decade of political turmoil and terror in which King Louis XVI was overthrown and tens of thousands of people, including the king and his wife Marie Antoinette, were executed. 

The Bastille was originally constructed in 1370 as a bastide, or "fortification," to protect the walled city of Paris from English attack. It was later made into an independent stronghold, and its name—bastide—was corrupted to Bastille. This French national holiday is officially called the Fête Nationale, and commemorates the Fête de la Fédération, a huge feast and official event begun in 1790 to celebrate the establishment of the short-lived constitutional monarchy in France.

The Bastille was first used as a state prison in the 17th century, and its cells were reserved for upper-class felons, political troublemakers and spies. Most of its prisoners were imprisoned without a trial under direct orders of the king. Read more at

Standing 100 feet tall and surrounded by a moat more than 80 feet wide, the Bastille was an imposing structure. It had eight towers, each about 78 feet tall, that were linked by walls of equal height and surrounded two courtyards and the armoury. The outer stone walls, 15 feet (4.5m) thick at the base, were pierced with narrow slits by which the cells were lighted. In early times, the Bastille had entrances on three sides, but after 1580 only one remained, with a drawbridge over the moat on the side toward the river, leading to outer courts and a second drawbridge. Learn more and see illustrations at

The capture of the Bastille provided the French revolutionary cause with an unstoppable momentum. Joined by four-fifths of the French army, the revolutionaries seized control of Paris and then the French countryside, forcing King Louis XVI to accept a constitutional government. In 1792, the monarchy was abolished and King Louis XVI and his wife Marie Antoinette, were sent to the guillotine for treason.
Arc de Triomphe
on the Champs Elysées

By order of the new revolutionary government, the Bastille was torn down. On February 6, 1790, the last stone of the hated prison-fortress was presented to the National Assembly. Bastille Day was created on July 14, 1880. Today, Bastille Day is celebrated as a national holiday in France. Parisians celebrate this national holiday with a grand military parade up the Champs Elysées, colorful arts festivals, and elaborate parties marking the holiday. Read more at

Around the United States, you can celebrate Bastille Day on July 14 this year with a 5K run in Chicago, a Bastille Day festival in Seattle and Milwaukee (and numerous other cities), a celebration at Eastern State Penitentiary in Pennsylvania, brunch or dinner with a French flair in San Diego, a concert in Hamilton (New Jersey), and a street party in Boston, to name just a few.

Tour de France 2010
You can also watch bikers riding through France and Belgium on the Tour de France now through July 22. See the latest yellow shirts and watch the riders compete at

Here's a photo my friend Mike took in 2010 when he visited France and followed the riders. The 99th Tour de France this year consists of 1 prologue and 20 stages and will cover a total distance of 3,497 kilometers. The race will finish in Paris on the Champs Elysées.

In Excel Math, we challenge students to solve word problems and then create their own after they've mastered the necessary concepts. Here's a Student Lesson Sheet with a Create A Problem exercise called "Tour de Vacation" in which students create a graph, calculate distance, and write their own word problem. Click here to download a PDF file you can use with your students:
Excel Math Grade 4 Student Lesson Sheet Create A Problem 18
Click here to download a PDF file.
Learn more about how Excel Math can work for your students at (Excel Math is fully aligned to the Common Core and to state standards. Download correlations.) Here are the suggested answers to Create A Problem 18:
Excel Math Grade 4 Student Lesson Sheet Create A Problem 18 Answers

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