The State of Lego

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.

The State of Lego

July 13, 2014

Every state in the United States is different. Each has its own history and foods, trees and animals, cool places to see and activities to try. Well, one person decided to show all of them using Lego. Photographer and Lego fan Jeff Friesen made little Lego scenes for all 50 states, showing everything from the clothes people wear there to the crops they farm and the movies they’ve filmed there. Florida shows a guy with a palm tree and an alligator; Indiana shows the winners of the Indy 500 car race. Poor Delaware, the second smallest state, is so little that George Washington and the car leave as soon as they show up. From the boardwalk in New Jersey, to the car factory in Michigan, to the rooftop BBQer in Mississippi, this Lego was made for you and me.

Wee ones: How many flowers pointing up can you count on the Kentucky horse’s hat?

Little kids: If the 3 corn stalks growing on top of the Iowa people’s heads each used 3 green leaf pieces, how many leaf pieces were used in total?  Bonus: Jeff also needed 3 yellow pieces on each stalk for the ear of corn. Together with the leaves, now how many Lego pieces were used?

Big kids: The Alabama scene shows ‘Bama fans at a football game: 10 in the front row, 11 in the middle row and 10 more in the back row.  How many Lego minifigures were used as these fans?  Bonus: If Jeff needed 6 minutes to pose the minifigures in each scene, how many hours did he spend setting them up for all 50 states?

The sky’s the limit: If Jeff had 50 minifigures handy – 18 girls and 32 boys – and 5 of the states needed 8 boy figures and a girl figure while all the other states each needed just 2 of each, at most how many scenes could he have posed at the same time?




Wee ones: 5 flowers.

Little kids: 9 leaf pieces.  Bonus: 18 pieces.

Big kids: 31 minifigures.  Bonus: 300 minutes, which is 5 hours.

The sky’s the limit: To start, he’s likely to set up the most scenes by including a lot of small ones. But doing all small scenes doesn’t make the most of these little people – because for the 4-figure states, the 18 girls let him make 9 states, but then he has all these extra boys he could have used on the big states. For every 2 girls he saves for 9-person states, he can make 2 more states instead of just 1. Counting down, he can use 16 girls (and 16 boys) to make 8 small states, then use the remaining 2 girls and 16 boys to make 2 big states, giving 10 states in total. To make another big state you’d need more boys, too, at which point you drop 4 states just to make another, so the 10-state combination appears to be the best.

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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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