Toilet Paper for All

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.

Toilet Paper for All

June 5, 2014

We’re not kidding: Charmin, the toilet paper maker, has decided to give away toilet paper as a gift, in case people need it. So a dump truck with thousands of rolls of Charmin toilet paper is driving around the U.S. and making stops — potty stops, you could call them — to hand out free toilet paper in towns along the way. And what better place to start this trip than Buttzville, NJ? If you have to live in a real place with that name, you might as well get a present for it. A couple of weekends ago Charmin gave out 20,000 rolls to the 200 people who live there, then donated another 10,000 rolls to their elementary school. Not your usual party idea, but it’s clear this dump truck is on a roll.

Wee ones: If Charmin’s truck started dumping toilet paper at 10 am and you got there just an hour later, what time did you arrive?

Little kids: If you managed to grab a 12-roll pack and a 6-roll pack, how many rolls did you get? Bonus: If your friend got a big poofy 15-pack, who got more rolls of toilet paper, and how many?

Big kids: If you take 3 days to use a full roll of toilet paper, how long would a 15-pack from that dump truck last you?  Bonus: If each roll has 80 feet of toilet paper on it, at least how many rolls would you have to unroll to make a 500-foot long stripe down the street?

The sky’s the limit: If Charmin gave out 6-packs, 12-packs and 15-packs of rolls, and gave out twice as many 15-packs as 12-packs and 1,000 more 6-packs than 12-packs, how many of each pack size did they hand out to add up to 30,000 rolls that day?




Wee ones: 11 am.

Little kids: 18 rolls.  Bonus: You got 3 more rolls.

Big kids: 45 days.  Bonus: 7 rolls, since 6 rolls would carry you only 480 feet.

The sky’s the limit: If we use s for 6, t for 12 and f for 15, we can say:
Total rolls = 6s + 12t + 15f = 30,000
There are twice as many 15-packs as 12-packs, so f = 2t
There are 1,000 more 6-packs than 12-packs: s = t + 1,000
Now that we can express s and f in terms of t, we can rewrite the first equation:
6(t + 1,000) + 12t + 15(2t) = 30,000 rolls
6t + 6,000 + 12t + 30t = 30,000
48t + 6,000 = 30,000
48t = 24,000
t = 500 (shortcut math: if you tried t = 1,000, we’d have 48,000, which would be double)

That gives us 500 12-packs, 1,500 6-packs, and 1,000 15-packs. To check the answer, that comes to 6,000, 9,000, and 15,000 rolls, which add up to 30,000 rolls.

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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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