It’s Hip to Be Square

It’s Hip to Be Square

December 11, 2014

My 7-year-old is a big fan of trivia books, and she is apt to randomly bring up interesting facts that stick with her. Luckily, National Geographic feeds her taste for bizarre and random with a large variety of trivia books and “weird but true facts for kids. Just the other day she shared a couple of nifty little facts with me. For example, she told me that people are about one cm taller in the morning than we are in the evening, and that astronauts grow a whopping two inches taller while in space. An odd turn in the conversation led us to two hours of outside play in pursuit of the burning question, are people rectangles or squares?

Determine if You’re a Rectangle or Square

You will need at least one willing child and a piece of chalk. Have your child lie down on the ground and stretch her arms wide to form a T. My daughter argued with me about whether her arms were truly perpendicular to her body (a nice long math vocabulary word) and giggled while I traced her outline.

She predicted with confidence that she her overall shape would be a rectangle after looking at her outline. We got out our measuring tape and checked the distance from head to heel as well as the distance from the tip of her fingers on the left side to the tip of her fingers on the right.

Are you a square or a rectangle? Find out at Bedtime Math!

Surprise! She was 47″ across and 47″ down. In other words, a perfect square!

Get Creative

Of course, my 7-year-old couldn’t resist coloring her outline. She was determined to make her life-sized copy as realistic as possible. She enjoyed applying her knowledge of color theory to make a purple flower on a shirt by mixing pink and blue and adding some crushed pink chalk to give her cheeks a rosy blush. She was so happy with the results that she immediately asked for another outline.

What shape are you? Find out at Bedtime Math!

It was a win. She not only rediscovered a joy of her chalk, but learned a new math trick too.

More Fun Math Body Facts

After discovering her new shape, my daughter eagerly shared more random body facts with me after consulting her favorite trivia books):

  • We use 17 muscles to smile and 43 muscles to frown
  • Babies are born with more than 300 bones in their bodies, but adults only have 206 bones
  • One human hair supports 3 ounces – she wants to test this one, but perhaps this is the topic for the next blog post.

With a slew of winter holidays just around the corner, many of us start to feel rather round this time of year, but try this activity if you really want to know what shape you’re in.

Images courtesy of Natalie

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About the Author



Natalie is a system engineer by education and a program manager for a big technology company in Silicon Valley. She was born and raised in the Soviet Union and always enjoyed math challenges and math Olympiads. Now she is trying to instill the same love of math in her daughter through books, math talks, and fun projects involving engineering and math. Natalie blogs at Planet Smarty Pants and can also be found on Pinterest.

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