Donut in Outer Space

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.

Donut in Outer Space

May 22, 2019

The donut has been a favorite treat for hundreds of years. But we bet you’ve never tried to shoot one into outer space. Two brothers, Alexander and Benjamin Jönsson, took a yummy glazed donut with sprinkles, stuck it on a plastic shelf with a camera, and strapped the whole thing to a weather balloon. The balloon carried the donut more than 20 miles up into the sky! The spinning camera caught amazing video of the sky, the Sun and Earth below all swinging by. 5 hours later the donut landed in a lake, and became the farthest flying astro-donut ever.

Wee ones: What shape is that kind of donut?

Little kids: If you launched a donut, 2 cookies and a brownie into space, how many astro-snacks is that? Bonus: If the donut had taken off at 1:00 in the morning and flown 5 hours, would it have landed in time for your 7:00 am breakfast?

Big kids: Regular airplanes fly about 7 miles above Earth. This donut flew 20 miles high. If you flew halfway between the two, how high would you be? Bonus: If the donut faced the Sun at 3:00 pm and spun all the way around every 4 minutes (at a constant speed), was it facing towards or away from the Sun at 3:18?

The sky’s the limit, even for donuts…: If the donut traveled for 5 hours in total, but within that spent 9 times as long floating up as falling back down (with no break in between), how much of the trip did it spend falling?



Wee ones: The donut is a circle…and the grown-up word for a tube wrapped end to end into a circle is a “torus.”

Little kids: 4 astro-snacks. Bonus: Yes, since it would have landed at 6:00 am.

Big kids: At 13 1/2 miles. The gap between the two is 13, and half of that is 6 1/2 miles. You can then add 6 1/2 to 7, or subtract it from 20. Bonus: Facing away, since it would face the Sun at 3:16 and 3:20.

The sky’s the limit: 1/2 hour. If the donut spends 9 parts of the trip going up and 1 part going down, that makes 10 equal parts in total, where it spends 9/10 of the trip going up and 1/10 falling. 1/10 of 5 hours is 1/2 hour.

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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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