Foundations of Mathematics 11 Intro Activity The Mystery of the Mary Celeste



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Foundations of Mathematics 11

Intro Activity


The Mystery of the Mary Celeste
The Mary Celeste, a Canadian-built 100-foot brigantine, set sail from New York on November 7, 1872, with Captain Briggs, his wife Sarah, his two-year old daughter Sophia, and a crew of seven. Five weeks later, on December 13, 1872, the Mary Celeste sailed into the Bay of Gibraltar with a completely different crew.

Conditions of the Mary Celeste, as reported by Captain Morehouse


  • The ship’s hull was not damaged

  • No crew or passengers were on board

  • No boats were on board

  • Ropes were dangling over the sides of the ship

  • Only one of two pumps was working

  • The forward and stern hatches were open

  • Water was found between the decks

  • The only dry clothing was found in a watertight chest

  • Kitchenware was scattered and loose in the galley

  • The galley stove was out of place

  • No chronometer or sextant was found on board (used for navigation)

  • The ship’s clock and compass were not working

  • The ship’s register was missing (a document that notes home port and country of registration)

  • The ship’s papers were missing (could have included a bill of sale, ownership information, crew manifest, and cargo information)

  • The cargo, 1701 barrels of commercial alcohol, had not shifted (when unloaded in Genoa, 9 barrels were found to be empty)

  • The alcohol was not safe to drink, but it could be burned.

With a partner, use the included information to develop a plausible explanation about what happened to the crew of the Mary Celeste. Answer the following questions. Be prepared to defend your position.
What pieces of information are significant, and why?
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Discuss with your partner possible explanations for the evidence and develop an argument to support your best explanation.
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What is one other piece of information, currently missing, that would further support your explanation?


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Can you be sure that your answer is correct? Explain.


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Using a smart phone find a definition for Inductive Reasoning.
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Is the process by which you developed a possible explanation for the Mystery of the Mary Celeste an example of Inductive Reasoning? Explain why or why not.


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