Did you ever wonder what cars would say if they could talk? Really, being a car has to be tough. You get stuffed full of people and booster seats. You have to drive for miles when the people, not you, feel like going. And all you get for food is that smelly gasoline. Then kids stick crayons in the cracks of the seats, leaving them to melt in the hot sun. Then even when you complain with the “Check Engine” light, everyone ignores you. So what would cars say to us if they could talk? They’d ask a lot of questions, and you might need to answer with some math.
Wee ones: “Are we there yet?” Stand a few feet from a wall, and guess how many steps it might take to walk to it. Then walk to the wall and count your steps! How close was your guess?
Little kids: “Do you have to hit EVERY pothole? C’mon!” If you hit 3 potholes on this street block and 4 on the next, how many potholes have you and your car hit? Bonus: “Can someone get the melted crayons out from under the seat? It’s pretty sticky…” If you left an 8-pack of crayons in the car and there are only 3 left in the box, how many melted their way into the seat crack?
Big kids: “Is it dinnertime yet?” If the nearest gas station is 18 miles away, and you have enough gas to drive 24 miles, how many more miles could you drive by the time you feed your car? Bonus: “Hey, can I have the 93-octane gas instead of the crummy 89? Show some love.” If the 89-octane costs $3.69 per gallon and the 93-octane costs $3.79, how much extra will 10 gallons of the good stuff cost?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…see how many steps you take!
Little kids: 7 potholes. Bonus: 5 crayons.
Big kids: 6 more miles. Bonus: $1.00. Each gallon costs 10 cents more (a dime), so 10 of those will cost exactly a dollar.
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.