For French Fries, Press Here

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.

For French Fries, Press Here

November 10, 2014

Have you ever bought anything from a vending machine? It’s a tall box filled with food or drinks, and when you put money into it and press a button, the item you chose pops out. Usually vending machines sell packaged foods like chips, candy bars, or bottles of water or soda. But people have figured out how to sell all kinds of food from them. One machine in Spain serves fresh French fries (try to say that 10 times fast). Moscow has machines that sell caviar, a favorite Russian snack  (“caviar” is raw fish eggs, which the machine thankfully puts in glass jars). And in Japan they’ve figured out how to grow veggies in a vending machine: since 2010 they’ve had machines that grow lettuce without any sunlight, by shining a dozen 40-watt light bulbs on wet sponges sprinkled with lettuce seeds. Someday you might be able to feed yourself a full dinner out of these electronic wonders.

Wee ones: The French fry machine can also serve salt and ketchup. How many foods does it serve in total?

Little kids: Another vending machine bakes fresh pizza. If it also makes 3 toppings — pepperoni, mushrooms and onions — how many different pairs of toppings could you order from it?  Bonus: In 2010 there were 33 caviar vending machines in Moscow. If they added 1 machine each year since then, how many would they have now? (We’re now in 2014.)

Big kids: If it takes 5 minutes to cook and dispense a batch of fries from the vending machine, how many people can get fries in a half hour (not counting any popping out on minute zero)?  Bonus: The lettuce vending machine can grow 60 heads of lettuce per day! How many is that in a 30-day month?




Wee ones: 3 foods.

Little kids: 3 pairs: P-M, P-O, M-O.  Bonus: 37 machines, since they would now have 4 more.

Big kids: 6 people.  Bonus: 1,800 heads of lettuce.

And thank you Zachary T. for sharing these amazing food facts!

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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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