When Your Body Falls Apart

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.

When Your Body Falls Apart

December 23, 2014

Have you ever made anything out of clay? Clay starts out soft, and you can roll it, shape it, and carve designs into it. But once it dries out and hardens, if you drop it it won’t go squish — it will break into zillions of pieces. Even if you work with something stronger like stone or marble, it can shatter if dropped. That’s what happened to a famous statue at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York. They had a statue of Adam (as in Adam and Eve), made way back in the year 1490 by Tullio Lombardo. In 2002 the statue fell to the floor, smashing into hundreds of pieces. Unbelievably, the museum folks took pictures of every piece on the floor, picked them all up, then spent years gluing them back together. Finally this week they finished putting Adam back together; here in the photo we see them gluing the poor guy’s head back on. He still has “scars” where he cracked, but the beauty of the statue is back.

Wee ones: If Adam had broken off just his 2 arms and 2 legs, how many pieces would they have had to glue back on?

Little kids: If you glued on all his fingers and toes, how many pieces did you glue?  Bonus: If 2 toes had each broken into 2 pieces themselves, how many total pieces would you have had to glue then?

Big kids: 28 of the pieces were pretty big, thankfully. If each arm had 3 of them, how many were from the rest of the statue?  Bonus: If he broke in 2002 and they glued on 30 pieces per year, how many pieces did they glue?

The sky’s the limit: If Adam broke into 100 pieces and there were 4 times as many from his body as his head, how many were there from each?




Wee ones: 4 big pieces.

Little kids: 20 pieces: 10 fingers and 10 toes.  Bonus: 22, since each toe adds just 1 more.

Big kids: 22, since 6 came from his arms.  Bonus: They worked for 12 years, so that would be 360 pieces.

The sky’s the limit: 80 body pieces and 20 head pieces. To have 4 times as many body pieces as head pieces, they must cover 4/5 and 1/5 of the total.

And thank you Christina C. for sending us this great story!

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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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