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Your Very Hungry Vacuum Cleaner

by Laura Overdeck

Have you ever lost a coin or a shoelace into a vacuum cleaner? How does the vacuum suck it up like that? The machine has a really strong fan spinning inside. Instead of blowing air out at you, it pulls air — and dirt, and Lego, and little fuzzies from your sweater — up into the vacuum. A normal vacuum cleaner can lift about 5 pounds with the hose attachment. But according to Mythbusters, a stronger “Shop-Vac” can lift an entire car! Our fan Charlotte J. has a Shop-Vac, which is why she asked us, “How many vacuum cleaners are sold in a year?” Turns out that 31 million vacuum cleaners were sold in America in 2017 – about 1 for every 10 Americans. A good vacuum can suck up about 12 gallons of milk every second, so that’s a lot of cleaning up!

Wee ones: Vacuum cleaners suck up tiny bits of things. Find 3 things in the room that are smaller than the tip of your finger.

Little kids: If the vacuum sucks up 5 Lego bricks and a sock, how many things has it eaten?  Bonus: If the vacuum eats up 8 chocolate chips from the kitchen floor, how do you count down the chips from 8 to 1? Try it!

Big kids: All the junk sucked up by a vacuum has to be emptied out. If you do this every 3rd day starting on a Sunday, on what number cleaning do you empty it on a Thursday?  Bonus: If on every 4th emptying you find a Cheerio and on every 5th emptying you find a penny, what’s the 1st emptying when you find both? (Assume you count every 4th emptying starting with the 4th, and every 5th emptying starting with the 5th).













Wee ones: Items might include a button, a marble, or an eraser that’s snapped off a pencil.

Little kids: 6 things.  Bonus: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Big kids: The 7th cleaning. The 8th will be on a Sunday just like the 1st, and you start the pattern over again!  Bonus: The 20th emptying.

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