“Canstruction”

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.

“Canstruction”

January 22, 2019

It’s awesome when people get together to build something really cool-looking — and even better when it helps other people. As our friend Suzanne D. shared with us, at Canstruction people around the country build giant statues out of cans of food. These Despicable Me minions are made of cans of tuna fish; people also makes statues of lizards, birds, castles, and designs like giant spirals. The cans still have food in them, by the way, so these statues are heavy to build and hard to balance. Builders win prizes like Best Meal (the statue with the yummiest mix of foods) and Best Use of Labels (great colors and patterns). Then the cans are given to other folks who don’t have enough food. Maybe Despicable Me is a good guy after all.

Wee ones: How many eyes can you count on the Despicable Me guys in the photo?

Little kids: If you stick on a red can, then a blue can then a red, then a blue…what color is the 7th can?  Bonus: If the front guy’s arms each have 10 cans, how many cans make up his arms?

Big kids: Each Despicable Me guy has what looks like 41 rows of cans top to bottom. If tuna cans are 2 inches tall, how tall are the statues?  Bonus: What does that equal in feet and inches — and how much taller than you are they? (Reminder: A foot has 12 inches.)

The sky’s the limit: How many cans did it take to build each of these statues? Do some guessing and some math, and see what you come up with! (You “can” assume the statue is hollow — just cans around the outside surfaces.)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: 3 eyes.

Little kids: Red.  Bonus: 20 cans.

Big kids: 82 inches.  Bonus: 6 feet 10 inches – and for how much taller, different for everyone.

The sky’s the limit: We got about 750…here’s what we did. We counted about 23 equal layers in the head and shoulders/chest, and 11 cans in the half of the layer we can see, making 22 cans per layer. That comes to 506 cans. For the pants, we assumed each layer has 2 fewer cans than the layer above it.  For the 8 layers in the pants, that means adding 20+18+16+14+12+10+8+6. To add that quickly, that’s the same as 20+6, then 18+8, and so on, which is four 26s or 104 more cans. For the head, similar thing: 6 layers would give 20+18+16+14+12+10, which is the same as six 15s, or 90. That gives us 506+104+90, which comes to exactly 700. Then there are 36 in the arms (we count 18 in each) and 12 in the feet (6 in each), bringing us to 748 tuna cans in each statue.

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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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