Bouncing off the Walls

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Bouncing off the Walls

June 3, 2019

Tractors, steam rollers and other trucks may seem like all work and no play. But when a couple of guys stuck a basketball hoop on a spinning forklift, that changed everything. A forklift is a small truck with two poles that stick out to lift heavy objects. In this video, two friends strap a basketball hoop onto the sticks, which the forklift jacks up a good 20 feet into the air. Then one guy does a whole set of amazing shots. He bounces the ball onto the floor and it shoots all the way up to fall into the basket; then he chucks the ball at the forklift while it’s moving, or at a wall so it can bounce into the hoop. We don’t know the numbers behind these amazing shots, but we can use math to guess!

Wee ones: What shape is a basketball, or any ball you like to play with?

Little kids: If the ball bounces 23 feet high above the ground, does it go as high as the 20-foot basketball hoop? Bonus: If you’re 4 feet tall and bounce a ball twice as high, how high does the ball bounce?

Big kids: If the basketball guy hurls the ball 25 feet at the wall and it bounces off to fly 11 feet to reach the hoop, how many feet does it travel in total? Bonus: If the guy tries 26 crazy shots like this and 1/2 of them go in, how many does he make?

The sky’s the limit: If the guy throws the ball at the forklift at 10 feet per second, and at the same time the forklift drives straight at him at 20 feet per second, how many feet from the guy will the ball and the forklift meet if they start 90 feet apart?










Wee ones: A circle — or in 3 dimensions, a “sphere.”

Little kids: Yes. In fact, it bounces 3 feet higher than the hoop. Bonus: 8 feet.

Big kids: 36 feet. Bonus: 13 shots.

The sky’s the limit: 30 feet. For every chunk of distance the ball travels, the forklift travels twice as much. So the ball will go 1/3 of the total distance and the forklift will travel 2/3 of it.1/3 of 90 feet is 30 feet.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

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.

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