It must be exciting to hold a world record – for running the fastest, or swimming the farthest, or changing clothes while jumping on a trampoline (yes, that’s one of them). So it makes sense that there’s a whole city that tries to break a world record every year! In the Spanish city of Valladolid, the townspeople get together to break the “most people doing something”-type records. One year they all threw hats. Another year they all bounced beach balls. What’s strange is that more than 12,000 people showed up to lick lollipops, but almost three times as many came to wave flags. You’d think free candy would draw a bigger crowd! But as the Valladolidians have shown, any record-breaking activity can be a blast.
Wee ones: Jump up off the ground. Now try to jump higher. Have a grown-up hold out a hand to mark how high you got, and see if you can break your own record!
Little kids: If you and 8 friends throw hats, how many of you are trying to break the record? Bonus: The Valladolidians threw hats 5 years ago. Were you alive then, and if so, how old were you?
Big kids: If you lick a lollipop, then wave a flag, then bounce a beach ball, then lick a lollipop to start the pattern again…what’s the 18th thing you do? Try to figure it out without counting one by one! Bonus: 9,995 people threw hats for that record. If 5 more people had joined them, how many people would they have had?
The sky’s the limit: Valladolid has about 300,000 people. Which would be a bigger crowd: 1/2 of them breaking a record, or 1/3 of them breaking a record and another 1/5 of them watching?
Wee ones: See how high you can jump!
Little kids: 9 people. Bonus: Different for everyone…if you are 5 or older, subtract 5 from your age.
Big kids: Bounce a beach ball, since that’s what you do every multiple of 3. Bonus: 10,000 people.
The sky’s the limit: The 1/3 and 1/5 together are bigger. 1/2 the people would be just 150,000, while 1/3 would be 100,000 and 1/5 would be 60,000, making 160,000. This is always true for those fractions: 1/2 is the same as 15/30, while 1/3 is 10/30 and 1/5 is 6/30. So 1/3 + 1/5 is 1/30th more than 1/2.
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.