Let’s face it: our pets want to be like us. They want to eat our food, sleep on our beds — and play our games. Some guy trained his cat to play Jenga, where you pull wooden blocks from a stack without making it fall. The cat is pretty good at it, as you can see in this quick video. While her owner loosens the blocks, the cat carefully bats them out of the stack. Then those blocks get placed on top so the game can keep going with a taller and taller tower. How tall can she go without crashing?
Wee ones: What shape are those blocks? Can you find 1 shape in your room that looks like that?
Little kids: If the guy takes the 1st turn, then the cat goes next, then the guy to repeat…who takes the 7th turn? Bonus: Who takes the 18th turn?
Big kids: If a 12-layer stack has 3 blocks in each layer, and they remove the center block from each layer and stack them in new 3-block layers on top, how many new layers do they add? Bonus: If then the top half of the blocks in this restacked tower (*not* half the layers!) come crashing down, how many layers are left standing? (Hint if needed: How many blocks does this tower have?)
Wee ones: The blocks are rectangles, or “rectangular prisms” in 3D. See if you can find a 6-sided rectangle box!
Little kids: The guy, since 7 is an odd number. Bonus: The cat, since 18 is an even number.
Big kids: There are 4 new layers, since 12 blocks get removed and restacked. Bonus: The bottom 9 layers. There are 36 blocks in total, so the bottom 18 blocks stay standing. They take up 9 layers since the whole bottom 12 layers have just 2 blocks per layer.
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.