Potato chips are crispy slices of salty yumminess. But it turns out you can build with them, too. Someone figured out that you can stack Pringles potato chips to make them stand in a full circle! As we see in this video clip, it takes a few tries to make it work. But Pringles are all the same shape — a hyperbolic paraboloid, if you want the exact math name — and every can holds about 100 chips. So you have plenty of chips for stacking — but you’d better eat fast before they roll away!
Wee ones: These chips are stacked in a circle. Find 3 circle-shaped things in your room.
Little kids: If you stack 4 chips, then eat 2 of those, then stack on 3 more, then eat 2 more, how many chips are left in your stack? Bonus: If a whole circle of 80 chips rolls off the table and you pick them up in handfuls of 10, what numbers do you say to count them?
Big kids: If you add a chip on the left side, then the right, then the middle, then left again to repeat, where do you stack the 29th chip? Bonus: If every can of Pringles has 100 chips, after those 29 how many are left to stack?
Wee ones: Items might include clocks, rims of cups, mirrors, and toy balls (seen from the side).
Little kids: 3 chips. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, 60, 70, 80.
Big kids: On the right, since it’s 2 slots past 27, a multiple of 3, and all multiples of 3 land in the middle. Bonus: 71 chips.
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.