Today From Bedtime Math: Going Nuts in the Jungle

Find out why it&s a good idea to drive a truck over macadamia nuts in this fun math problem!
By Laura Overdeck
Mar 24, 2015



Mar 24, 2015

Hawai'i may have steaming volcanoes, as we featured in another Bedtime Math problem. But it's also home to some tasty tropical treats, including macadamia nuts. The macadamia is one of the butteriest, yummiest nuts you can eat — if you can crack it open. The macadamia has the toughest shell of any nut; even a hammer can't smash it open. You need to squash the nut with 300 pounds per square inch to crack it! In the old days Hawaiians would put the nuts on the road under wooden boards and drive a truck over them to crush them. Today machines at the Mauna Loa factory do all the work, and the island still grows almost all the world's macadamias. The nuts are sold straight roasted, garlic-flavored, or coated with dark chocolate, milk chocolate, and even cookies and cream — and you'll be happy to hear that "truck tire" isn't one of the flavors.

Now ask your kids to come up with the answers to these nut-inspired math problems:

Wee ones: If you first eat a dark chocolate-coated macadamia, then a milk chocolate-coated, and keep switching from dark to milk, what flavor is the 6th nut?

Little kids: If you eat a dark chocolate macadamia, then a milk chocolate one, then a roasted one, then repeat over and over since they're so yummy, what flavor is the 9th nut you eat?  Bonus: What flavor is the 19th nut?

Big kids: If you and 4 friends each drive a car over a batch of macadamias, how many nut-crushing tires do you have altogether?  Bonus: If you and your friends each weigh 50 pounds, how many of you need to pile onto a 1-inch-square nut to weigh 300 pounds to crack it?

The sky's the limit: A macadamia's shell is closer to a 1/2-inch by 1/2-inch square. How many pounds of weight do you have to put on that area to crack it?
Wee ones: Milk chocolate.
Little kids: Roasted, like all the multiples of 3.  Bonus: Dark chocolate – it's 1 more than a multiple of 3, so it follows roasted.
Big kids: 20 tires, since you have 5 cars.  Bonus: 6 of you.
The sky's the limit: 75 pounds, since now you're crushing just ¼ of a square inch of shell.

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