Normally a basketball hoop is just a hoop stuck against a flat board. But this one looks a little different. Can you tell how? The backboard is curved! It curves inward, just like a spoon – that’s called concave. You can throw a basketball at any part of this crazy concave backboard, and it will bounce into the hoop. Upper left corner, bottom right, it doesn’t matter – the angle of the board will steer the ball right in! Of course, if you still want a real challenge, you can go for nothing but net.
Wee ones: Basketballs roll. Can you find anything near you that rolls?
Little kids: If you make a 2-point shot, then a 3-point shot, how many points did you score? Bonus: If you throw 10 shots at this backboard but completely miss the backboard 1 time, how many times did you hit the backboard and score?
Big kids: If a blue team shoots on this basket and makes all 14 of their shots, but a red team plays on a normal basket and makes 1/2 of their 24 shots, who made more shots? Bonus: What if the red team makes 5/8 of their shots – does that change the winner?
Wee ones: Items that roll might include any other ball, pens, empty cups, and other round objects!
Little kids: 5 points. Bonus: 9 times, because 10 – 1 = 9.
Big kids: The blue team, because 24 x 1/2 = 12, and 14 > 13. Bonus: Yes, then the red team makes more shots! 5/8 x 24 is a little messy if you multiply and simplify, or you can reason that 1/8 of 24 is 3, and if you make 5 sets of 3 shots, 3 x 5 = 15. 15 > 14.
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.