Wrong Kind of Balloon Ride

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.

Wrong Kind of Balloon Ride

September 17, 2018

For some people, flying 35,000 feet above the ocean on a plane isn’t exciting enough. They have to strap themselves to a bunch of balloons and float across. That’s exactly what Jonathan Trappe set out to do a couple of years ago, when he climbed into a basket tied to 370 helium balloons and took off. He started in Maine and hoped to cross the Atlantic Ocean. Had he succeeded, he would have been the first person ever to do it with helium balloons. Well, his trip ended just 12 hours later, when his balloon started having problems and he had to land in Newfoundland (part of Canada). To this day no one has made it across the ocean this way. So if you can track down hundreds of party balloons, you can try to be first!

Wee ones: Jonathan’s balloon went up, then down. Look straight up — what do you see? Now look down — what do you see this time?

Little kids: Which color balloon shows up the most, and how many of them can you see at least partly?  Bonus: If that was out of 20 balloons total, would there be more yellow balloons or non-yellow balloons?

Big kids: Trappe was 39 years old when he tried this 5 years ago. If he tries again 10 years from now, how old will he be?  Bonus: If each of those 370 balloons can hold up 1 pound, and Trappe weighed 180 pounds, how many pounds could his basket, snacks, etc. weigh all together?











Wee ones: Looking up, you might see the ceiling, or the sky! Looking down, you might see carpet, floor, dirt or grass — and your feet.

Little kids: 7 yellow balloons: 3 in the upper left, 1 in the middle, and 3 on the right, by our count.  Bonus: There will be more non-yellow balloons, since half would be 10.

Big kids: 54 years old, since he’s now 44.  Bonus: 190 pounds.

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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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