Potato Chips That Rock ‘n Roll

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.

Potato Chips That Rock ‘n Roll

October 2, 2017

Potato chips are thin, crispy slices of salty yumminess. But it turns out you can build with them, too. Crazy Russian Hacker figured out that if you stack Pringle potato chips all curving the same way and stacked to the sides and up, you can make them stand in a full circle! As we see in this video clip, it takes Hacker a few tries to make it work. But Pringles are all the exact same shape — a hyperbolic paraboloid, if you want the exact math name — and every can holds about 100 of them. So you have plenty of chips for stacking — but you’d better eat them fast before they roll away!

Wee ones: These chips are stacked in a circle.  Find 3 circle-shaped things in your room.

Little kids: If you stack 4 chips, then eat 2 of those, then stack on 3 more, then eat 2 more, how many chips are left in your stack?  Bonus: If a whole circle of 80 chips rolls off the table and you pick them up in handfuls of 10, what numbers do you say to count them?

Big kids: If you add a chip on the left side, then the right, then the middle, then left again to repeat, where do you stack the 29th chip?  Bonus: If every can of Pringles has 100 chips, after those 29 how many are left to stack?

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: Items might include clocks, rims of cups, mirrors, and toy balls (seen from the side).

Little kids: 3 chips.  Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80.

Big kids: On the right, since it’s 2 slots past 27, a multiple of 3, and all multiples of 3 land in the middle.  Bonus: 71 chips.

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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 while still in diapers, 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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