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This Week From Bedtime Math: Why Koalas Hug Trees

Everyone knows koala bears are cool, but there's a secret to their success. Find out more in today's challenge from Bedtime Math!
on September 09, 2014

What is Bedtime Math? A message from Laura: Bedtime Math is a pretty simple idea: We all know we should read to our kids at night, but what about math? My husband and I have done fun, mischief-loaded math problems with our kids at night for years, and when at age 2 our third child started hollering for his own math problem, we realized we were onto something:  In a world where so many people say, "Ewww, math!" we had created a household culture where kids don't just tolerate math, they actually seek it out. Now, every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!
Whenever we talk about our furry friends the koalas, we imagine them hugging a tree, hanging on tightly probably to keep from sliding down. But scientists have now found out exactly why these creatures hug trees: to cool off. Scientists noticed that koalas always hug acacia trees even though they eat eucalyptus tree leaves. It turns out that the acacia trunks were up to 9 degrees cooler than the air around them. Also, as the weather got hotter the koalas slid farther and farther down to thicker parts of the trunk, which are cooler. Koalas also pant (breathe hard) to keep cool, the same way dogs do, but it dries you out to breathe fast, and by hugging trees the koalas save half the water they would have lost by panting. But we still like to think koalas hug the trees because they're just cozy, lovable animals.

Challenge your kids to keep their cool while they try to come up with the answers to these koala-inspired math problems:

Wee ones: If a koala hugs you with all 4 of its legs, how many legs can 2 koalas hug you with?

Little kids: If a koala starts on a eucalyptus tree as the 1st tree, then climbs to an acacia, then to a eucalyptus, and so on, what type is the 9th tree?  Bonus: If it's on the 10th tree and eats only from the eucalyptus trees, how many trees have been nibbled by the koala?

Big kids: If a koala climbs 28 feet up a tree, then slides halfway down for fun, how high off the ground is the koala now?  Bonus: Scientists have to study a lot of animals to make sure there's really a pattern. If they studied 84 koalas and all but a quarter of them hugged trees, how many treehuggers were there?
Wee ones: 8 legs.
Little kids: A eucalyptus tree, like all the odd-numbered trees.  Bonus: 5 trees.
Big kids: 14 feet.  Bonus: 63 koalas.

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In the Learning Toolkit blog, get quick and easy tips on how to support your child’s learning at home. From arts and crafts activities to conducting science experiments, we offer simple and fun ways to support your learner’s development at every age and stage.

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