Preposterous Pepper Passer

Preposterous Pepper Passer

May 5, 2020

This is a weird time, where we have to keep our distance from each other. So people are going to come up with some weird ideas. Joseph’s Machines built this crazy contraption to pass the pepper from one end of a long table to another. It’s called a Rube Goldberg machine. Each piece of the moving puzzle – like the spinning cake, tumbling limes, and flipping tables – knocks or tips over another piece, setting off a tasty chain reaction. Given the mess this made, we think we might just skip the pepper.
 
Wee ones: If there were 10 pencils and 4 pieces of cake in this machine, were there more pencils or pieces of cake?
 
Little kids: The cake spins clockwise. Can you take something on the table and spin it clockwise?Bonus: If the pepper-passing machine started 9 seconds into the video and finished at 4 minutes 5 seconds, did it take more than 4 minutes?
 
Big kids: If it took 12 hours to build this machine and 1 1/2 times as long to test and perfect it, how many *total* hours did it take? Bonus: If the pepper traveled 28 feet in 4 minutes on this machine, how long would it take to travel 63 feet if the pepper kept going through the machine at the same speed?
 

 

 

 

 

 
Answers:
Wee ones: More pencils, because 10 is more than 4.
 
Little kids: Try it out! Turn it so the “top” (the part farthest away from you) turns to the right, and the “bottom” (part closest to you) moves to the left). Bonus: No, it took just a little less than 4 minutes – if it finished at 4 minutes 9 seconds, then it would’ve taken 4 minutes.
 
Big kids: 30 hours. Half of 12 is 6, so 1 1/2 of 12 is 12 + 6 = 18. Then the total is 18 + 12 = 30. Bonus: 9 minutes. The pepper is moving at 7 feet per minute, because 28 / 4 = 7. 63 feet / 7 feet per minute = 9 minutes.

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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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