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Pinging All Pots and Pans

by Laura Overdeck

Have you ever played ping pong or table tennis? In that game, you smack a little white ball back and forth over a net on a table. But there’s more than one way to play with a ping pong ball! This kid and his mom set up 4 pots and pans, then spent a looong time trying to bounce a ping pong ball off each pan and into a cup. The ball comes close over and over before the mom finally sinks the shot. Just goes to show that you’ve gotta keep bouncing back!
 
Wee ones: If a ping pong ball can fit totally inside a cup, which is bigger, the ping pong ball or the cup?
 
Little kids: If you wanted to set up your own trick shot using 1 less pan than this 4-pan shot, how many pans would you need? Bonus: If it took 14 tries in total to land the ball, and the mom tried 2 more shots than the kid, how many shots did each person try?
 
Big kids: If this video actually only shows 1 out of every 3 shot attempts, and we see 14 shot attempts, how many shot attempts did this really take? Bonus: Pretend you set up this trick shot yourself and it takes 24 minutes to make the shot on the first day, but on the 2nd day it only takes 1/2 the time, on the 3rd day it takes 1/2 the time as the 2nd day, and so on. What’s the first day you’ll make the shot in under 1 minute?
 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Answers:
Wee ones: The cup is bigger.
 
Little kids: 3 pans. Bonus: The mom tried 8 shots, and the kid tried 6. If they had taken an equal number of shots, they would’ve each tried 7 shots.
 
Big kids: 42 shot attempts. You can use partial products: 14 x 3 is the same as 10 x 3 + 4 x 3, or 30 + 12 = 42. Bonus: On the 6th day. Dividing each previous day by 2 gives you a progression of 24 to 12 to 6 to 3 to 1 1/2 to 3/4 of a minute.

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