Which One Wins, the Spaghetti or the Meatball?

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.

Which One Wins, the Spaghetti or the Meatball?

June 28, 2016

Spaghetti and meatballs are a favorite meal for both kids and grown-ups. So Mateo C. asked an important question: was the world’s biggest meatball bigger than the world’s longest piece of pasta? As usual, it depends. If by “big” you mean the length or width of the food, the pasta won by a mile, in fact by more than 2 miles: the longest pasta ever made stretched 12,388 feet! Next to that, the world’s biggest meatball was only 4 ½ feet wide, which doesn’t sound so big. On the other hand, that meatball weighed 1,110 ½ pounds. How much did the pasta weigh? We can use math to figure that out: 24 foot-long linguini noodles weigh only 1 ounce (our team here weighed it ourselves). So 16 of those sets, or 384 feet of pasta, weigh 1 pound. We divide to find that a 12,388-foot pasta strand has about 32 sets of 384 feet, so it weighed 32 pounds. That’s still a lot for spaghetti, but the meatball crushed it!

Wee ones: What shape is a meatball?

Little kids: If you serve yourself 1 world-record meatball and 7 normal-sized ones, how many meatballs do you have?  Bonus: If 3 of those roll off your plate, how many meatballs are left?

Big kids: If for dinner you ate just 1/10 of the 1,110-pound meatball, would your meal weigh more or less than you?  Bonus: If you and your car weigh 2,000 pounds total, and a bridge can hold only 4,000 pounds of weight, can you drive the 1,110-pound meatball across it?

The sky’s the limit: If you have 1,000-pound meatballs and 30-pound pasta noodles, how many of each do you have if your whole meal weighs 3,200 pounds?

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: A circle from the side view, or in 3D, a “sphere.”

Little kids: 8 meatballs.  Bonus: 5 meatballs.

Big kids: Different for everyone…see if you weigh more or less than 111 pounds!  Bonus: Yes! All together you’ll weigh 3,110 pounds, which is less than 4,000.

The sky’s the limit: You need a multiple of 1,000 and a perfect multiple of 30. So you can’t have 3 meatballs, because the noodles can’t add up to 200. In the same way you can’t have 1 meatball, because that leaves 2,200 pounds, which isn’t divisible by 30 either (its digits don’t add up to a multiple of 3, so it can’t be divisible by 3, which means 30 won’t work either). So as it turns out, you have 2 meatballs, which add to 2,000, leaving you with 1,200 pounds. And 1,200 = 30 x 40. You have 2 meatballs and 40 noodles.

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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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