This Week from Bedtime Math: Mistake or Invention?

We all make mistakes. But, as it turns out, not all mistakes need fixing! Sometimes, the goofiest mistakes actually add up to the greatest new inventions.
By Laura Overdeck
Apr 16, 2013



Apr 16, 2013

Everyone makes mistakes, but some mistakes turn into brilliant inventions. As this article explains, some of the best things in life were made by mistake, including Slinkies, Wheaties, and Post-it® sticky notes. The Slinky was originally supposed to be a coil for equipment on ships. Wheaties were supposed to be mushy goop, but the batter spilled on a stovetop and instantly crisped up into flakes. Post-it® notes came from glue that didn’t stick hard enough. In all cases, they turned into something fun and new – these are mistakes that need no fixing.

Wee ones: If you stick 4 Post-it®  notes on your head and 2 on your arm, and 3 fall off right away, how many notes are still stuck to you?

Little ones: If a box of Wheaties fills 13 bowls, and you’ve eaten 5 of them, how many bowls are left? Bonus: If 3 million people love Wheaties and each person eats a bowl of it every day, how many bowls of the Breakfast of Champions gets eaten in a week?

Big kids: A 2-inch-tall Slinky uses 80 feet of wire! How much wire do you need to make a 6-inch Slinky of the same width? Bonus: If your school is a rectangle 300 feet long and 100 feet wide, how many stretched-out 80-foot Slinkies would you need to wrap end to end to get all the way around it?

A message from Laura:   Bedtime Math is a 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. 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!  Check out this week’s problem below ~


Wee ones: 3 sticky notes.

Little kids: 8 bowls left. Bonus: 21 million bowls!

Big kids: 3 times as much wire, or 240 feet. Bonus: The school is 800 feet around (2 long sides, 2 short sides), so you need 10 Slinkies.

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