May the Force Be with You

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.

May the Force Be with You

May 4, 2018

If you’ve seen the Star Wars movies or photos from them, you might know about one of the coolest weapons in them: the lightsaber. A “saber” is a sword, so a light saber is just a sword-shaped beam of light. But the blades of light can’t cut through each other: when two lightsabers clash, they buzz and sizzle. So how did the movie props people make these cool weapons? The truth is, each actor waved a handle holding a painted piece of broomstick. Then the movie editors took each “frame,” or snapshot from the movie, and painted a clear piece of plastic to match where the lightsaber was. They make a new movie of those pictures, then put the two movie together so the sticks in their hands glow. Really boring for the actors, but sizzlin’ cool for us to watch. And as we see in this photo, a group of dancers in San Francisco actually taught a lightsaber class with regular lit-up sticks, so people could feel the force themselves.

Wee ones: What shapes does that yellow streak of light look like?

Little kids: If your Jedi instructor is training you to use 2 lightsabers at once, and she’s using 2 lightsabers also, how many lightsabers do you have together?  Bonus: If you chose yours from a pile with 1 green lightsaber, 1 blue, and 1 yellow, how many different left-right pairs could you have picked?

Big kids: If your opponent lunges at you 3 seconds into your match and then every 3 seconds after that, how many lunges do you fend off in a 1-minute match? (Reminder if needed: A minute has 60 seconds.)  Bonus: If 14 of you are training, and together you have twice as many yellow lightsabers as red ones and twice as many blues as yellows, how many of you have blue?










Wee ones: A circle, or a cone (“truncated,” meaning cut off at the top).

Little kids: 4 lightsabers.  Bonus: 6 pairs: GB, GY, BG, BY, YG, YB.

Big kids: 20 lunges.  Bonus: The colors make 2 sets of 7 sabers – 1 red, 2 yellows, and 4 blues – so there are 2 x 4 or 8 blue lightsabers.

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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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