Monday, January 13, 2014

Why I Love My Cheap Microwave

It's big, it's blue, and it's bulky. It doesn't match anything in our kitchen, but I've grown to love our cheap microwave. It has been a topic of many conversations and a great math tool! Yes, this is a post about our microwave; please keep reading.

I started college in the fall of 2001 (dated myself). My roommate and I worked out that I'd buy the microwave if she brings the mini fridge. This microwave was in no way unique! In fact, they were all over the place and came in many different colors to suit many different personalities (not to mention, they were the cheapest microwaves out there). When we "temporarily" moved to the Bay Area almost 9 years ago, it came along and just never got replaced because it works just fine. Nowadays, people who never saw these microwaves ask if they were an Apple product of the same general time frame (honestly, I can't blame them for that assumption).

I've recently grown fond of this fine product thanks to the little 4 year old hands that always want to help. The microwave is within his reach, and he'll jump on any task that involves using the microwave.

I'll let you in on my secret on why I love this microwave; we just don't push numbers 0-9 on the key pad and press start. We are given limited options to choose from: 10 minutes, 1 minute, and 15 seconds.

This means J has to think about what to push when I ask him to microwave something for 30 seconds. He quickly learned that 30 is 15 twice and 45 is 15 three times. If I ask him to microwave something for 10 seconds, he watches the microwave and stops it when it says 5 seconds are left. Math is very much a part of our everyday life.

Because of his young age, J's not quite grasping that time (seconds and minutes) are in base 60. We are beginning conversations that 1 minute does not equal 100 seconds and 1 hour does not equal 100 minutes. This microwave will be a useful tool for these conversations too.


Can you microwave something for 90 seconds given the buttons on our microwave? What would you push? 
(note the 15 seconds only goes to 45 then it goes to 00 without making 1 minute)
  • You could do it in two 45 second waves: 45 + 45 = 90
  • The better choice, assuming the recipe doesn't need 2 - 45 second waves: how many seconds are in 1 minute? 60 (remember the microwave doesn't do 60 seconds but has a 1 minute button). How many seconds remain after you microwave for a minute (which we just established is 60 seconds)? 90-60 = 30. So, the answer is: When microwaving something for 90 seconds, you'd want to set the microwave to 1 minute and 30 seconds by pushing 1 minute and two 15 seconds on our microwave buttons.

What's your favorite nerdy kitchen tool?

*Note, I did prep for this lesson by cleaning out the microwave, a task that I've been putting off for many months. Yay for Nerdy Science and motivation to do my chores.


  1. That is a cute microwave! I think our measuring cups are my favorite nerdy kitchen tool - great for fractions!

    IKEA sells awesome plastic microwave covers that keep food from splashing all over microwaves. A very popular contraption in Europe that most Americans seem oblivious to. Not sure quite how tiny your microwave is, though - they may be too large.

    1. It's fairly small though we can fit a dinner plate with a snug fit and two bowls of soup in it (not at the same time). We have covers for our work microwave. I'd probably be too lazy to use them at home though even if they fit.

      I love measuring cups too. I can't wait till J gets into fractions. Good choice!