Shooting-Star Skydivers

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.

Shooting-Star Skydivers

March 7, 2018

Skydiving world record in formation

Skydiving is a crazy sport out there. You jump out of a plane thousands of feet up in the sky, fall at over 100 miles an hour, then pull your “parachute” to slow you down to land. But if LOTS of skydivers jump at once, they can grab each other’s arms to link up and make pictures in the sky. These 164 skydivers jumped out of 7 planes over Chicago. In the video, we see how they steered to fall faster or slower to meet each other in the sky. They planned out the design down on the ground, then figured out who should grab whom…after all, some divers have a stronger right or left hand, and some dive faster than others. Some dove 175 miles an hour! At the time, their awesome star shape broke the record of 100 group divers — and everyone’s parachute worked!

Wee ones: How many points does the skydiver star shape have? Remember where you started counting!

Little kids: If 4 people grab hands, and they need 6 in total to make a loop, how many more divers need to join them?  Bonus: If one plane had 6 divers jump out, another had 10 divers jump out, and a 3rd plane had the number halfway between 6 and 10, how many divers jumped from that plane?

Big kids: The old record had 100 people jump in a square. How many more divers did this group have?  Bonus: If 12 of the 164 had made a center circle, and the rest of the divers had fanned out to make 8 equal chains, how many divers would have made each chain? (Hint if needed: 8 is 2 x 2 x 2, so to divide by 8, just cut in half 3 times in a row!)




Wee ones: 10 points.

Little kids: 2 more divers.  Bonus: 8 divers.

Big kids: 64 more divers.  Bonus: 19 divers per chain. They would have had 152 divers in the 8 groups, giving us 19 in each (152 can be halved to make 76, then 38, then 19. Also, 152 is one 8 less than 20 x 8 (160)).

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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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