When Garbage Goes Flying

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.

When Garbage Goes Flying

March 25, 2019

Do you recycle? Recycling means you take used plastic, paper and metal, and turn it into clean new plastic, paper and metal. A lot of towns let us mix all our recycling in one bag. How do they unmix it all? This wild video shows how Philadelphia does it. Once the workers pull out big plastic toys and other non-recyclable junk, everything else flips and bounces over big turning gears. Paper floats up and away over the top, while heavier pieces fall down through the cracks. A huge vacuum sucks up all the plastic bags. Then a giant magnet pulls out all the metal cans. Every pound of that recycled paper or plastic saves enough energy to light a few light bulbs. So keep recycling!

Wee ones: If you recycle paper, plastic, glass and metal, how many materials are you recycling?

Little kids: If you throw a plastic bottle into the recycling bin, then a glass one, then a plastic and so on, what kind of bottle will the 8th one be? Bonus: If the tractor claw grabs 100 pounds at a time from the garbage truck, how many times does it need to grab to get 400 pounds?

Big kids: If they can pull out glass, metal, plastic, and paper in any order EXCEPT paper gets pulled first, in how many different orders can they pull stuff? Bonus: Every bottle you recycle saves enough energy to run a computer for 25 minutes! How much computer time do you get from saving 5 bottles?












Wee ones: 4 materials.

Little kids: A glass bottle. Bonus: 4 times.

Big kids: The other 3 materials can fall in 6 orders: GMP, GPM, MGP, MPG, PGM, PMG. Bonus: 125 minutes.

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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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