Have you ever played on the monkey bars at the playground? It looks like a ladder laid sideways — and we bet you didn’t know it started as an outdoor math game! A lawyer in Chicago built the first set, and numbered each “rung” or bar. When someone called out a number, you had to grab the bars and swing your way to that rung. Soon people called them “monkey bars” because kids looked like monkeys swinging through tree branches. Of course, some people are just as fast at this as monkeys. In 2001, Ana Belen Ubeda Palomares of Spain swung across 100 bars in just 1 minute, traveling almost 115 feet! No one has swung faster since then. The question is, could she count that fast?
Wee ones: The monkey bar rungs make 4-sided shapes called rectangles. See if you can find 3 rectangle shapes in your room.
Little kids: If you’re awesome at this and can swing across 2 bars at a time, grabbing the 1st rung, then 3rd, then 5th, what are the next 3 rungs you grab? Bonus: If there’s a banana hanging only from the same bars you grab, will you get a banana at the 15th rung?
Big kids: If Ana zoomed across 100 bars in just 1 minute, did she take more or less than 1 second to grab each bar? Bonus: If there were a banana hanging from every bar, how fast could she collect 150 bananas?
Wee ones: Possible answers include window panes, door frames, the edges of books, and the edges of Lego bricks.
Little kids: The 7th, 9th, and 11th bars. Bonus: Yes! 15 is another odd number.
Big kids: Less than 1 second per bar. Bonus: In 90 seconds. If she does 100 bars in 60 seconds, she can do 50 more bars in 30 seconds.