A Bigger, Better Paintball

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 Paintball

September 26, 2015

“Paintball” is a game where people shoot balls of wet paint at each other, and when the paint hits it makes a big splat. But this picture shows another kind of paint ball: it’s a giant ball of dry paint, and it all started with a teeny baseball. Back in 1977 Mike Carmichael and his son, then 3 years old, painted a baseball blue simply because they wanted a blue baseball. Since then they’ve kept painting new layers of paint onto it. Even though paint spreads thin, it does have a thickness, so when you stack enough layers it starts to add up. Now that little baseball has 25,000 layers of paint, making it almost 14 feet wide. And since paint is heavy, the ball now weighs more than 5,000 pounds! Visitors can paint a layer on themselves, so if you want to head to Indiana, you can be part of the world record for the largest paint ball.

Wee ones: When that 3-year-old kid started painting, was he older or younger than you are now?

Little kids: The ball actually broke the record in 2004, when it was just 9 feet across. At 14 feet, how much wider is it now?  Bonus: If it grows that same amount again, can it roll through a 20-foot-wide doorway?

Big kids: The ball’s chain can hold up to 11,500 pounds. How many more pounds of paint can this 5,000 ball take before the chain breaks?  Bonus: 1,200 people visit to check out the ball every year. If 1/10 of them paint the ball, how many people paint it?




Wee ones: Different for everyone…if you’re older than 3, he was younger, but if you’re 3, you’re the same; if you’re younger than 3, he was older.

Little kids: 5 feet wider.  Bonus: Yes, but barely! It will be 19 feet wide.

Big kids: 6,500 pounds.  Bonus: 120 people.

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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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