Fill Me Up

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.

Fill Me Up

July 14, 2014

Getting gasoline for your car is pretty easy. You drive up to a gas station, stick a hose in the hole in the side of your car, squeeze the handle, and watch the numbers spin to count the gallons.  But how does the gas get to that hose in the first place? There must be a lot of it – cars pull up to fill their tanks all day – so where is all that gas hiding? For starters, the gas lives in 2 or 3 giant tanks underground, which hold 8,000 to 10,000 gallons each. Big fuel trucks visit the station and, as shown in the picture, connect hoses from their tanks to the tanks underground…whoosh, they fill the tanks with thousands of gallons at once.  In the old days it wasn’t so easy: before the very first gas station opened in 1905 in St. Louis, people used to buy gas in small amounts at hardware stores and pharmacies. Now, with over 120,000 gas stations across America, we can all fill up much faster.

Wee ones: Which holds more gas, an 8,000-gallon tank or a 10,000 tank?

Little kids: If you’re filling your car’s 30-gallon tank and you have just 1 more gallon to go, how much have you put in so far?  Bonus: If you pull up at 2:39 pm and it takes 4 minutes to fill your tank, at what time do you finish?

Big kids: If a station gets 150 cars in one day and each one needs 20 gallons, will a 1/2-full 8,000-gallon tank have enough gas for them?  Bonus: If we have exactly 125,000 stations, how many cars does each station serve if they split up the country’s 250,000,000 (250 million) cars equally?




Wee ones: The 10,000-gallon tank.

Little kids: 29 gallons.  Bonus: 2:43 pm.

Big kids: Yes, because the cars need 3,000 gallons, and the tank has 4,000.  Bonus: 2,000 cars each.

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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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