When you’re making an ice cream cone, can you ever have too many scoops? Of course not! But how tall would that super-tall cone stand? Our fan Nate N. is thinking even bigger: he asked us, how many scoops of ice cream would it take to have an ice cream cone as tall as Mt. Everest? (and we’re loving his 26-scoop ice cream artwork as a start). To figure this out, we need the height of Mount Everest, which is 29,029 feet, and the height of each scoop. Scoopers can make 2-inch or 3-inch balls, giving us between 4 and 6 scoops per foot of height. If we call it 5 scoops, we’d need almost 150,000 scoops of ice cream! And it would taste even better if every scoop were its own flavor.
Wee ones: Find 1 ball-shaped item in your room. Do you think it’s bigger or smaller than a scoop of ice cream?
Little kids: If you’ve piled 8 scoops of ice cream onto your cone, how many scoops did you scoop before it? Bonus: If you’ve scooped 50 feet of ice cream so far, how would you count up those feet by 10s?
Big kids: If you stack up 80 scoops on a cone, and every 4th one starting with the 4th is chocolate, how many chocolate scoops do you have? Bonus: If you eat your way from the top to the bottom, how many non-chocolate scoops have you eaten by the time you reach your 9th chocolate scoop?
Wee ones: Items might include bouncy balls, marbles, beach balls, or balls for sports (tennis, soccer, baseball).
Little kids: 7 scoops. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50.
Big kids: 20 scoops. Bonus: 24 scoops. Eating your way down, the top scoop is chocolate (since it was the 80th one stacked up). That’s your 1st chocolate scoop, and it’s followed by 3 non-chocolate scoops. So by the time you reach your 9th chocolate scoop, you’ve eaten 8 sets of 3 non-chocolates.
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.