The Write Stuff

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

The Write Stuff

May 19, 2016

When you pick up a pencil to write, it feels like it weighs almost nothing. But the world’s biggest pencil probably takes a lot more work than that. So our friend Nya W. asked, how big is the world’s biggest pencil? (And drew this great picture to go along with it!) It turns out 2 pencils have set records. The world’s longest pencil stretched 1,509 feet, which is a good part of a mile. Made in August 2015, it was just as skinny as a real pencil, just really, really long. It was also rubbery and bendy, so it didn’t feel like the ones in your desk. The biggest pencil that looks like a giant real one was made just a few months later in New York City. At 76 feet long, it weighed 18,000 pounds! The eraser by itself was 2 1/2 feet long, and the lead — the dark part down the middle that leaves marks on the paper — was 10 inches across and weighed 4,500 pounds by itself. Next time you need to write a note to someone, you might want to stick with the pencils in your desk.

Wee ones: If you’re holding the world’s longest pencil, the world’s biggest pencil, and your own little pencil, how many pencils do you have?

Little kids: Who’s taller, that 76-foot pencil or a 29-foot-tall house?  Bonus: If you use up 1 foot of that 1,509-foot pencil by drawing, now how long is it? See if you can remember the whole number!

Big kids: The eraser made up 2 1/2 feet of that giant 76-foot pencil. How long was the rest of it? (Hint if needed: What if the eraser were just 2 feet?)  Bonus: If you write your name in letters half as tall as that 76-foot pencil, how tall are those letters?

The sky’s the limit: If a kid can pick up 50 pounds, how many kids would it take to pick up that 18,000-pound pencil? (Hint if needed: What if each kid could pick up 100 pounds?)




Wee ones: 3 pencils.

Little kids: The pencil is taller!  Bonus: 1,508 feet.

Big kids: 73 1/2 feet.  Bonus: 38 feet — still probably taller than your home!

The sky’s the limit: 360 kids. If each could pick up 100 pounds, you’d need just 180 kids, but if each can lift only half of that, you’ll need twice as many people.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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