We bet you’ve never seen the story of Passover told like this. Passover, which starts tonight, is the Jewish celebration of freedom from slavery in Egypt over 3,000 years ago, and the creation of the Jewish nation under Moses. To help everyone understand the story behind the holiday, these students built a Rube Goldberg machine that shows it all. In a Rube Goldberg machine, each piece falls, tips or rolls to knock another piece, which knocks another piece, causing all kinds of crazy things to happen. As you see in this video, each set of stunts tells a story from the Torah, from a fan blowing a baby doll across a kiddie pool (Moses in the river) to branches catching on fire (the Burning Bush). See if you can count the pieces, and tell the story yourself!
Wee ones: If the machine shows the Plague of Blood, the Plague of Frogs, the Plague of Hail and the Plague of Darkness, how many plagues is that? (Don’t worry — they use red food dye and Dominoes for that first one.)
Little kids: If the dominoes take 2 seconds to turn off the lights for the Plague of Darkness, and the lights stay off for 8 seconds, how long did that story take? Bonus: If the lights go off at 1 minute 25 seconds into the video, at what time do they flick back on 8 seconds later?
Big kids: If the machine has 10 domino runs with each using 20 blocks or pieces of matzo, how many pieces in total had to be set up? Bonus: If each tipping piece of matzo is 1/2 inch taller than the piece before it, how tall is the 9th piece if the 1st one was 5 inches tall?
Wee ones: 4 plagues.
Little kids: 10 seconds (8 + 2). Bonus: At 1 minute 33 seconds.
Big kids: 200 pieces. Bonus: 9 inches tall, since the 8 jumps will add 4 inches total.
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.