When Pies Fly

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 Pies Fly

November 21, 2013

The countdown to the big Thanksgiving meal (or maybe the crazy day of shopping that follows) has begun! There’s actually a lot of math that takes place around this meal-driven holiday how many guests are coming? How many chairs do we need to borrow in order for everyone to have a seat at the table and can you comfortably squeeze a dozen people around a table designed for eight? And of course that persistent question from the kids, when do we eat?

Whether counting guests, the weight of the turkey, or the time, one thing you can always count on at Thanksgiving dinner is pumpkin pie for dessert. I can’t think about pie without recalling my younger son’s tenth birthday party.

He had only one request for the big 1-0. He wanted to fulfill his lifelong dream—of having a pie thrown in his face.

A pie in his face? A bit goofy, but it seemed easy enough. In fact, I’ve always wondered what that would feel like, so I indulged him. It was a learning experience for us both.

How many friends does it take to throw a pie in my son’s face?

In this case, the answer was three. He decided that while one would toss the pie, the other two would secure his arms lest his reflexes get the better of him and cause him to block his face.

We also learned for a true pie toss, one needs to do the math.

I filled a store-bought graham cracker crust with whipped cream, but the end result required more of a direct face plant than an actual throw. In math terms, my puffy whipped cream pie had lots of volume, but it lacked mass. A bit of pumpkin puree or chocolate pudding between the crust and the whipped topping would have given it the necessary heft think of the difference between tossing an air-filled balloon vs. a water balloon.

Other variables to consider when optimizing a face-pie connection include the arc of the throw and velocity of the pie. There’s some big math and physics behind this silly act as this tutorial from Khan Academy explains (about 4 minutes in).

I certainly don’t encourage you to throw pies during what I hope is a lovely holiday dinner, but I will say that some pretty crazy things happen in our house in the time between our guests heading home and my kids hitting the sack.

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About the Author

Kim Moldofsky

Kim Moldofsky is a mom of teen boys in the Chicago area. She blogs at TheMakerMom.com and hosts a the popular monthly #STEMchat on Twitter where parents and educators share ideas and resources to raise STEM-loving kids.

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