Now reading: Amazing Race teams test their mathematical mettle

Take a self-guided tour from quantum to cosmos!

Amazing Race teams test their mathematical mettle

When teams from The Amazing Race Canada dashed into Perimeter Institute, the gravity of their challenge left some racers befuddled at blackboards.

amazing race canada perimeter

In a challenge that required equal parts brains and brawn, contestants in an episode of The Amazing Race Canada ran Perimeter Institute’s staircases and scrawled at its blackboards to solve a gravitational puzzle.

Perimeter Amazing Race
Racers run to the Perimeter Institute challenge.

The episode was recorded this spring at various locations around Waterloo Region — including The Culinary Studio and Waterloo Park — as one leg of the 10-team race across the country. The episode aired on CTV Aug. 13 (and can be viewed on the CTV website), and was shown at free public viewing parties around the region.

At the Perimeter Institute challenge, teams were given tennis balls, a stopwatch, some chalk, a calculator, and a mathematical equation. Their mission: to drop tennis balls from a fourth-storey balcony above the Perimeter reflecting lounge, time the descent to the floor, and use that time to calculate the distance between the balcony and the floor.

Discerning a correct answer — and thus earning the clue for their next destination in the race from judge Kelly Foyle, a Perimeter outreach scientist — required plugging their number into a gravitational equation and remembering some rules of algebra.

Which teams successfully flexed their math muscles, and which ones got left in the (chalk) dust? Watch the episode to find out.

How would you have fared? 

We won’t make you run up four flights of stairs and drop a tennis ball. Instead, we’ll tell you roughly how long it takes for the ball to fall from the balcony to the floor: t = 1.64 seconds.

The acceleration due to gravity (g) = 9.81 m/s2.

For an extra little challenge, racers had to convert metres into feet (hint: there are 3.28 feet in a metre).

Now, use that information and this equation to solve for distance, in feet, of (d):

Click here for the solution!




On July 27, Juan Maldacena, a luminary in the worlds of string theory and quantum gravity, will share his insights on black holes, wormholes, and quantum entanglement.

/Jul 12, 2023

Dark Matter Night will feature live talks on October 26 at both Perimeter Institute and the McDonald Institute, webcast free online.

/Oct 07, 2022

Each episode, a new researcher joins the co-hosts for a wide-ranging conversation about the process, challenges, and rewards of a life in science.

/Apr 07, 2022