With December finally here, you might get a snowfall very soon. Snow means snowball fights, so our fan Lucas W. asked, how many snowflakes are in a snowball? We love this kind of question, because it’s way easier to use math than to count the flakes! For starters, Sue at this web page tells us that 50 snowflakes weigh 1 gram, the weight of a paper clip. There are about 28 grams in an ounce (about half a candy bar) and 16 ounces in a pound, so 1 pound of snow has 50 x 28 x 16 flakes, or 22,400 snowflakes. That’s a pretty heavy snowball, but as Lucas pointed out the world’s largest snowball was more than 10 feet across. Better get out of the way from that one!
Wee ones: Snow (if it’s clean) is white. Find 5 white things in your room.
Little kids: If a snowflake has 6 sides, how many more sides does it have than a square? Bonus: If snowflakes fly by and you catch the 3rd one on your tongue, then the 6th, then the 9th…which one do you think you catch next?
Big kids: If you catch 300 snowflakes (the weight of 6 paper clips), what numbers would you say to count up by 50s? Bonus: If your 1st snowball has 19,000 snowflakes, your 2nd has 37,000 snowflakes, and your 3rd’s number of snowflakes is halfway between, how many flakes does your 3rd snowball have? (Hint: You can ignore the thousands and work with the smaller numbers first, then multiply your answer by 1,000).
Wee ones: Items might include paper, bed sheets, pillows, socks, or tissues.
Little kids: 2 more sides. Bonus: The 12th snowflake, since it’s every 3rd flake.
Big kids: 50, 100, 150, 200, 250, 300. Bonus: 28,000 flakes.
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.