This Week From Bedtime Math: Roller Coasters

If your children love roller coasters, they&ll love trying to solve these math challenges.
By Laura Overdeck
Jun 11, 2013

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This Week From Bedtime Math: Roller Coasters

Jun 11, 2013

Scream Machine

Usually if something frightens us, we avoid it. But for some reason, we happily ride roller coasters to scare ourselves on purpose. When you're staring straight down from the top of the rails, and you know you're about to plummet toward Earth at full speed and maybe flip upside-down after that, there's not much you can do except holler. Since coasters can fall from as high as 400 feet and race as fast as 150 miles per hour, an obvious thing to do in that situation is to scream. If your children love roller coasters, then give them the following challenges to solve. They just might scream if they get the answers right!

Wee ones: If a roller coaster has 5 giant drops and 1 loop-de-loop, how many chances to scream will you get?

Little kids: If your roller coaster car holds 12 people, and half of them are screaming after the first drop, how many people are screaming?  Bonus: If you can stuff 8 more people in that car and only half of them are screamers, now how many screamers are there?

Big kids: If the fastest roller coaster goes 150 miles per hour, and the fastest you've been driven in a car on the road is 80 miles an hour, how much faster does the coaster go?  Bonus: If the coaster runs 2/3 as fast as its top speed down the second drop, and then only 3/4 of that second speed on the 3rd drop, how fast do you zoom on the 3rd drop?

 

Answers:

Wee ones: 6 chances to scream.

Little kids: 6 people.  Bonus: 10 screamers, since you added 4 more.

Big kids: 70 miles an hour.  Bonus: 75 miles an hour, since you go 100 miles an hour on the second drop.


Message from Laura:   I’m excited to announce the very first Bedtime Math book!  Bedtime Math – A Fun Excuse to Stay Up Late contains all-new crazy math problems just like the weekly riddle here, and illustrated in full color by the renowned Jim Paillot (with glow-in-the-dark stars on the cover, too!). The book will be out June 25, and it’s available for preorder now. One of the greatest things you can do to support the Bedtime Math movement is to order a copy and tell your friends. Not only will you love it, but the proceeds help fund our free programming -- we're a nonprofit -- and a big opening week of sales will get lots of attention and help us make math a fun part of kids' lives. Click here to pre-order for all the little people in your life. Thanks and enjoy!

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