Weaving around the Sun

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.

Weaving around the Sun

July 8, 2016

People have been weaving thread into cloth for as long as 7,000 years. But a few years ago the Rainbow Loom came along, giving kids a way to weave rubber bands. You loop the colorful rings onto rows of pegs in a pattern, then peel them off in order. Off pops a linked bracelet, a flower ring, even the side of a pocketbook. It takes lots of little rubber bands just to make a chain around your wrist. So Addie W. asked us, how many Rainbow Loom bands would it take to wrap around the sun? Well, the Sun is about 865,000 miles wide – over 100 times as wide as Earth! Then we multiply by the magic number pi (3.14) to get the distance around it, which comes to over 2 million miles (2,717,000). That’s 172,100,000,000 inches. If we stretch the little rubber bands to exactly 1/2 inch to make it easy, we need 2 for every inch, or more than 344 billion rubber bands. You’ll need a galaxy-sized loom to weave those!

Wee ones: If your chain has 6 rubber bands and you loop on 1 more, how many bands do you have now?

Little kids: If you loop a blue band 1st, then a green one, then blue again to keep going, how many bands of each color do you use in a chain of 9?  Bonus: If the 1st band zigzags down, and the next zigzags up, and so on, which direction does the 7th band go?

Big kids: If you make a bracelet where every 4th rubber band is yellow and every 6th band is purple, what’s the 1st band where you have to choose between the two?  Bonus: How many times do you have to make this choice for a 40-band chain?

The sky’s the limit: If you set up your loom with 3 rows of 6 pegs each, and you loop 1 rubber band around every pair of pegs right next to each other going straight up-down or left-right, how many rubber bands can you fit on the loom?




Wee ones: 7 rubber bands.

Little kids: 5 blue and 4 green.  Bonus: Down, like all the odd numbers.

Big kids: The 12th band.  Bonus: 3 times: on the 12th, 24th and 36th bands.

The sky’s the limit: 27 bands. In each short 3-peg row you have 2 bands, from 1st to 2nd and 2nd to 3rd peg. These 6 short rows use 12 bands. Then in each long 6-peg row, you have 5 bands (from 1st to 2nd, 2nd to 3rd, and so on until 5th to 6th). These 3 long rows use another 15 in total, giving us 12 + 15.

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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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