This Week From Bedtime Math: Lawn Chair Larry
What is Bedtime Math? A message from Laura: Bedtime Math is a pretty simple idea: We all know we should read to our kids at night, but what about math? My husband and I have done fun, mischief-loaded math problems with our kids at night for years, and when at age 2 our third child started hollering for his own math problem, we realized we were onto something: In a world where so many people say, "Ewww, math!" we had created a household culture where kids don't just tolerate math, they actually seek it out. Now we email parents a fun, lively math problem every day to do with their kids – and every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!
People have always wanted to take flight, but some really do it by the seat of their pants. 31 years ago this week, a guy named Larry Walters decided to build his own homemade flying machine -- by tying 45 giant helium weather balloons to a regular old lawn chair. He hoped to float about 30 feet above his backyard, then pop the balloons one by one to come back down (yes, this is a true story). Well, his flying machine worked too well. Larry shot 15,000 feet up into the air, clinging to the chair for dear life (he didn't think to attach a seat belt). He eventually floated over Los Angeles International Airport, came down enough to get tangled in a power line, and earned himself the nickname Lawn Chair Larry. While it all ended well, it was truly one of those don't-try-this-at-home stunts. Instead, try challenging your children with these fun math problems:
Wee ones (counting on fingers): Lawn Chair Larry brought along some food, drinks, and other items for his flight. If you bring 3 sandwiches, 2 water bottles, and a pair of binoculars, how many items are you packing for your trip?
Little kids: If Larry could have used 25 fewer balloons to float to the right height, how many balloons would he have needed? Bonus: If you and you lawn chair weigh 1/5 as much as Larry's load, how many balloons would you have needed to fly to the same height?
Big kids: If an airplane flying at 32,000 feet had spotted Larry, how many feet would it have had to come down to reach him? Bonus: If the first balloon he popped brought him down to 11,500 feet, how many feet did he come down?
Wee ones: 6 items for the trip.
Little kids: 20 balloons. Bonus: 9 balloons (assuming that balloon lift is linear with weight).
Big kids: 17,000 feet. Bonus: 3,500 feet.