How to Bake a Bug Cake

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.

How to Bake a Bug Cake

October 4, 2018

leafcutter-ant-cake_constructionWe all know some kid who wowed everyone by eating a live ant (or if you haven’t met that kid yet, you will). Thankfully, someone knows how to make ants taste a lot better. Here we see a leafcutter ant cake made by chef Buddy Valastro, the Cake Boss. He made this crazy cake for Liberty Science Center, a New Jersey museum that has leafcutter ants. In this video, the Cake Boss and his fellow chefs sawed a big flat piece of wood for the body of the ant, and stuck mounds of Rice Krispie treats to the bottom of it. On top, they placed circular layers of cake, which they shaped with knives to make the ant’s sections. They wrapped it in modeling chocolate, sprayed it with food dye, added green icing leaves, and ta-da — an ant you really want to eat!

Wee ones: A real ant is as small as the tip of your finger. Find 3 things in the room that are smaller than your fingertip.

Little kids: Like all ants, a leafcutter ant has 6 legs. How many legs would you and your pet ant have together?  Bonus: If the chefs started baking at 8:00 in the morning and worked until 5:00 pm, how many hours did they work on it that day?

Big kids: If in each cake stack the top layer serves 6 people, the middle layer serves 8, and the bottom layer serves 10, how many people can a stack feed?  Bonus: What if the 3 layers serve 28, 30, and 32 people? What shortcut can you find to add up the number people served?

The sky’s the limit: This cake is about 6 feet long, compared to an ant 1/4 inch long. How many ants would need to line up end to end to match the cake?

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: Items might include a tiny pebble, a bead, or the smallest size Lego piece.

Little kids: 8 legs.  Bonus: 9 hours.

Big kids: 24 people.  Bonus: 90 people. If you switch 2 slices from the 32 to the 28, you then have 30 + 30. Then add another 30 for the middle layer.

The sky’s the limit: 288 ants! 6 feet is the same as 72 inches (6 x 12), and each inch needs 4 ants.

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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 before she could walk, 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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