How do 6-foot-tall people build 60-foot tall buildings? Or 600-foot-tall buildings? Our fan Calvin T. asked about one cool tool that helps us: the “scaffolding” around buildings. Scaffolding is a metal frame that stacks little rectangular floors with sets of stairs. That lets people walk up and reach any part of a tall building. It’s much safer than a wobbly ladder, and lets you move side to side. That way workers can stack bricks, put windows in place, and paint the building. Over the years people also need to repaint the building and wash the windows, so they bring out the scaffolding again. What’s crazy is how high these people stand on this tall wobbly thing. Think about the highest place you’ve been, then imagine standing outside in the wind at that height and trying to wash a window!
Wee ones: How many stories tall is your home? Talk about it with a grown-up – and you can climb any stairs together to check it out!
Little kids: If each story, or floor, of a building is 10 feet tall, how tall is a 2-story building (with a flat roof)? Bonus: If you counted up the height of a 6-story building by 10s, what numbers would you say?
Big kids: If a painter climbs up 2 12-foot stories, and he’s 6 feet tall and can reach another 2 feet above that, how high on the building can he paint? Bonus: If you stand on the 3rd level of scaffolding where every story is 11 feet, are your feet higher or lower than that paintbrush?
The sky’s the limit: If one painter is 142 feet in the air and another is 86 feet in the air, and you climb up halfway between the two, how high are you?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…check out the floors of your home!
Little kids: 20 feet tall. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60.
Big kids: 32 feet (24 + 6 + 2). Bonus: Your feet are higher, since they’re at 33 feet.
The sky’s the limit: At 114 feet. 142 and 86 are 56 feet apart, and 1/2 of that distance is 28 feet You then add 28 to 86, or subtract 28 from 142. Either way you land at 114.
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.