Can girls do math? A paper folding story.

This story is cute, and even though it happened several years ago, it was new to me, and I really want to share it with you.

Maybe you've heard that it's impossible to fold paper more than 7 or 8 times, no matter how hard you try?

Well, that turned out to be a myth. Then high-schooler, Britney Gallivan tackled the challenge of folding paper 12 times and succeeded (in 2002). She experimented and thought about it, and found out what exactly limits the folding process. She discovered an equation linking the minimum length of paper needed, thickness of paper, and number of foldings.

Then, she calculated she needed paper about 4000 feet long to do 12 foldings! Britney found one special toilet paper roll that would do, went to a mall with her parents and started folding... It took 7 hours for her and her parents to do it, mostly on hands and knees.

Don't you ever think or leave that impression that girls can't do math - even if you're a female yourself and weren't good in math. Remember, your students will be affected by your attitudes.

Read more and see a picture of Britney and the paper:
Champion paper-folder and Paper folding at Mathworld and Folding paper in half 12 times.

P.S.
If you wanted to do 13 foldings, you'd need about 6000 feet of paper (if it was 0.002 inches thick).