The Frisbee was invented by accident over a hundred years ago, when a bunch of kids started throwing empty pie tins through the air. People loved catching that flying circle as much as throwing it. Now try chasing it down by riding a speedboat! That’s what we see in this video. Frisbee trickster Brodie Smith throws a Frisbee from a bridge, while a speedboat below him kicks into gear. 9 seconds later, as the pilot steers the boat towards the Frisbee, another guy leaps off the boat and catches the disc with just one hand. We don’t know the numbers behind their crazy stunt — how high they jumped, and how far the Frisbee flew — but we can use math to get an idea.
Wee ones: What shape is a Frisbee?
Little kids: If during practice the boat guy catches the Frisbee on the 3rd try, then every 3rd try after that, on what try does he make his next catch? Bonus: If the Frisbee flies 100 feet and the boat drives 90 feet, which one travels farther?
Big kids: If you try this stunt, and you spend 15 seconds riding the boat, then 2 seconds leaping for the Frisbee, then 10 seconds swimming back to the boat, how long does the whole stunt take? Bonus: If the Frisbee flew 200 feet and the speedboat missed by falling 1 foot short, how far did the speedboat travel?
The sky’s the limit: If Brodie throws the Frisbee at 10 feet per second and the boat travels twice as fast, how far does the boat drive if it catches up in just 5 seconds?
Wee ones: A circle.
Little kids: On the 6th try. Bonus: The Frisbee flies farther.
Big kids: 27 seconds. Bonus: 199 feet.
The sky’s the limit: 100 feet, since the boat is traveling 20 feet per second.
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.