If you’ve ever tried to make a snowman — or chuck snowballs at your friend — you know that nice, wet, heavy, packable snow works best. And if you have enough of it, you can make a giant shark like this one, made by three kids in Minnesota. The Bartz brothers spent 95 hours shoveling up a huge pile of snow, then patting it and shaping it to look like a shark. At 10 feet tall and about 30 feet long, the shark is almost as big as their house!
Wee ones: The teeth are pointy like triangles. See if you can spot 2 triangles in your room.
Little kids: If the oldest brother is 6 feet tall, the youngest is 4 feet tall, and the middle one’s height is the number between them, how tall is the middle brother? Bonus: If they all stand on top of each other in a stack, and can reach 1 foot higher than that, how high can they reach on the shark?
Big kids: If the shark took 95 hours and they worked 10 hours a day starting on a Monday, on what day did they finish? Bonus: The shark used 12,000 pounds of snow. If a shovel can move 10 pounds of snow, how many scoops of snow did they shovel to make this thing?
The sky’s the limit: The brothers’ names are Austin, Connor and Trevor. If Austin’s and Connor’s ages add up to 25, Connor’s and Trevor’s add to 30, and Austin’s and Trevor’s add to 27, what are the 3 boys’ ages?
Wee ones: Items might include noses on stuffed animals, barrettes, or triangle designs on clothes or book covers.
Little kids: 5 feet tall. Bonus: 16 feet (4+5+6+1).
Big kids: The following Wednesday. 9 days won’t be enough, so they’ll finish on the 10th day. Bonus: 1,200 shovel scoops.
The sky’s the limit: Austin is 11, Connor is 14 and Trevor is 16. We can solve this with simple algebra and substitution, since we know:
a + c = 25
c + t = 30, so c = 30 – t
a + t = 27, so a = 27 – t
Substituting those expressions for a and c into the first equation, we get
30 – t + 27 – t = 25
57 – 2t = 25, which is the same as 57 – 25 = 2t
32 = 2t, so t = 16
With that, we can solve for Austin using 27 – t, so Austin is 11. And for c we have 30 – t, so Connor is 14.
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.