You know how sunshine can bounce off glass windows into our eyes? Well, a skyscraper in London, England has an even bigger problem. The light bouncing off it is so strong and hot that it melts things. Car doors and mirrors have melted, store carpets have caught on fire, and even stone steps have cracked in the heat. This crazy stuff is happening because the side of the building is curved. The windows bounce all the sunlight into one small point, (the same thing happens when you look at a spoon and see yourself upside down). That makes a really, really strong beam. The builder finally fixed the problem with a giant sunshade along the side of the building. But it shows that when you build a shape, you’d better do the math first!
Wee ones: The walls of your room are probably straight. How many straight walls can you count around you?
Little kids: If the building melts 2 car doors, 2 tires, 2 side mirrors and a candy bar, how many items did it melt? Bonus: If you park your car at 11:00 and it starts melting an hour later, at what time is that?
Big kids: If it takes 42 minutes for the danger spot to start melting your car, and you parked half that amount of time ago, how many minutes until your car starts melting? Bonus: If a new car parks in the danger spot every 1/2 hour, how many cars are in danger in 12 hours of sunshine?
Wee ones: Most rooms have 4 straight walls, but you might have more than that – or a curved one!
Little kids: 7 melted things. Bonus: At 12:00 noon.
Big kids: 21 minutes. Bonus: 24 cars.
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.