A Bigger, Better Blob of Butter

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.

A Bigger, Better Blob of Butter

January 16, 2016

Butter makes just about any food taste better. You can spread it on bread, cook sizzling foods in it, melt it and dip snacks in it…but you usually don’t eat it straight. And you usually don’t carve shapes out of it, either. But that didn’t stop the folks at the 100th Pennsylvania Farm Show this week: two sculptors made a statue out of 1,000 pounds of butter! “Sculpting” means carving art out of some kind of material, and these guys took a whole 2 weeks to carve their butter sculpture. First they bent a wire shape for each shape, like the cow, then slapped on chunks of butter, then carved and smoothed them into these amazingly real shapes. And they had to do some math: they found they could work best at 55 degrees F, because the butter was warm enough to stay soft, but cold enough not to melt. The question is, how much toast could those statues spread?

Wee ones: How many people can you count in the butter sculpture?

Little kids: How many flat sides (“faces”) does a long stick of butter have?  Bonus: If the sculptors carted the butter in 100-pound chunks, what numbers would you say to count up their weight to 1,000?

Big kids: If you want to carve a stick of butter into a ninja, and your kitchen’s temperature is 68 degrees, how much colder do you need to go to match the perfect 55?  Bonus: If you need just 1/10th of a stick to spread on a slice of toast, and there are 4 sticks in a pound, how many slices of toast could you spread with this statue?




Wee ones: We count 4 people, plus the cow and basket of apples.

Little kids: 6 faces: top, bottom, left, right, front and back.  Bonus: 100, 200, 300, 400, 500, 600, 700, 800, 900, 1000!

Big kids: 13 degrees lower.  Bonus: 40,000 slices of toast!

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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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