June 13, 2019

What could be yummier than pancakes? Stacks of warm, spongy dough layered with butter and syrup…and now, those pancakes can be shaped like a horse, a cactus or any crazy thing. PancakeBot uses a robot arm to squirt pancake batter in any design you program into it. As we see in this video, the clever bot squirts the outline first, so the batter can cook a bit and hold the rest of the batter when the bot fills in the shape. A 3D printer works this way, too: instead of printing ink on paper, it squirts hot melted plastic in layers to build any shape. If you can’t fit PancakeBot in your kitchen, try squirting batter with a bottle — you might be even better than the bot.

Wee ones: If you make 3 dinosaur pancakes and then make a horse pancake to mix things up, how many animal pancakes do you have?

Little kids: If you make a horse pancake, a chicken pancake and a fish pancake, how many legs do your pancakes have? (Fins don’t count!)  Bonus: If you nibble off 1/2 the legs to start, how many pancake legs are left?

Big kids: If the machine takes 13 seconds to draw the outline of the pancake and twice as long as that to fill the “wall” with batter, how long does it take to make that cake?  Bonus: If a pancake cooks for a total of 90 seconds, but the 1st side takes 2 seconds longer than the 2nd side, how long does each side take?

The sky’s the limit: If a cactus cake uses 1/2 cup of batter and a horse uses 5/8 cup, and you want to eat 3 cups of batter’s worth, how many pancakes of each shape can you make IF you want at least 1 of each?




Wee ones: 4 animal pancakes.

Little kids: 6 legs.  Bonus: 3 legs.

Big kids: 39 seconds.  Bonus: 46 seconds and 44 seconds. If the 1st side gave 1 second back to the 2nd side, they’d be even, so they’d each take 45 seconds.

The sky’s the limit: 4 horses and a cactus. To use up 3 cups, you’ll need the horses to add up to a round multiple of 1/2, so you can add cacti and reach exactly 3 cups. 4 horses brings you to 20/8 cups, or 2 1/2 cups. That leaves you with room for 1 cactus.

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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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