If you want a great job when you grow up, guess what: you could be an “ice cream taster.” For more than 30 years John Harrison has worked for Edy’s Ice Cream, testing each batch of ice cream to make sure it’s good. He first chops the carton of ice cream in half to see if the chips, nuts and swirls are evenly spread out. Then he tastes a bite in 3 steps: “swirl, smack, and spit.” He spits it out because he’d feel sick if he swallowed every bite! Each year only about 100,000 of the 40,000,000 gallons (40 million) turn out not good enough. The fact is, most ice cream is yummy.
Wee ones: If John tastes vanilla, s’mores, chocolate peanut butter cup, and mint, how many flavors does he taste in total?
Little kids: If a sliced carton should show 18 chocolate chips, but John counts 16, does it have too many chips or too few? Bonus: How many more chips should he see?
Big kids: If John tastes 3 pints from the first 20 pints of fudge swirl, then 5 from the next 20, how many pints does he skip? Bonus: If he always tastes 1 out of every 10 pints, how many tastes does he get from a batch of 200 pints?
The sky’s the limit: John gives a low rating to 1/400th of all pints. If Edy’s makes 80,000 pints in a given week, how many will probably turn out okay?
Wee ones: 4 flavors.
Little kids: Too few chips — and that’s an emergency! Bonus: 2 more chips.
Big kids: 32 pints, since he tasted 8 out of 40. Bonus: 20 tastes.
The sky’s the limit: 79,800 of them, since there will be 200 duds. To walk through the powers of 10: out of 800 pints, there would be 2 duds; out of 8,000 there would be 20; so out of 80,000 there would be 200 duds.
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.