Whipped cream is such a tasty treat. In the summer take a bowl of fresh berries, toss some whipped cream on it — mmm. So when was this stuff invented? About 500 years ago, by a bunch of guys with long Italian and French names that are hard to say. But what made them think to whip up cream in the first place? Did they know what would happen? By the way, there was no electricity back then — they had to whip it by hand. Luckily, it was worth the work. Whipping air bubbles into cream makes it take up a lot more “volume,” or space. In the Bedtime Math test kitchen, 1 cup of heavy cream turned into 3 cups of whipped cream. For something as important as dessert, that’s a key math fact!
Wee ones: Whipped cream is white. Try to spot 4 white things in your room.
Little kids: If you can whip 2 cups of heavy cream into 6 cups of whipped cream, how many cups of air did you whip into it? Bonus: If you’re making whipped cream for a party, and 1 cup of heavy cream makes 3 cups of whipped cream, how much whipped cream does 3 cups make?
Big kids: If a can of whipped cream holds 6 cups, and when you open it it explodes and squirts 1 1/2 cups on you, how much whipped cream is left in the can? (Hint if needed: What if only 1 cup came out, and how is this different?) Bonus: If you then try to squirt half of what’s left into your mouth, how much is left after that? (Hint: To cut 4 1/2 in half, you can cut the 4 in half, then cut the 1/2 in half, then add the 2 parts back together.)
Wee ones: Possible items include socks, underwear, bedsheets, toy balls, and (in the bathroom) towels and bar soap.
Little kids: 4 cups of air. Bonus: 9 cups of whipped cream (by the way, at 800 calories per cup of cream, that’s 2400 calories – about as much food as a grown-up eats in a day. Don’t try eating that all at once!).
Big kids: 4 1/2 cups. Bonus: 2 1/4 cups left.
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.