This Week from Bedtime Math: Really Turning Heads

Did you ever hear of the wise old owl? Owls might be wise or maybe they just see things we can&t see. Learn how they do it in today&s math challenge.
By Laura Overdeck
May 14, 2013



Really Turning Heads

May 14, 2013

When you read a book or look around the room, your eyes move from side to side in their sockets so you can see a lot without turning your head. If you were an owl, though, you'd have no such luck. Owls' eyes are fixed in their sockets, which means that every time they want to look at something, they have to turn their whole head in that direction. Don't feel bad for them, though. They can turn their heads 135 degrees in either direction – meaning, they can look behind their own shoulders! That gives them a whopping 270-degree field of view, where 360 degrees would be a full circle. Throw in their incredible sense of hearing and wings that let them fly without making a sound, and you've got one fierce hunter – although they still have trouble reading a newspaper.

Wee ones (counting on fingers): If there are 4 owls sitting in a tree outside your window, how many of those funny eyes do they have altogether?

Little kids: The world's smallest owl, the Elf Owl, is only about 5 inches tall. But the Great Grey Owl can be up to 33 inches tall. How much taller is that Great Grey? Bonus: Many owls are nocturnal, meaning they sleep during the day and stay awake at night. If an owl goes to bed at 5 in the morning and wakes up at 7 at night, how long did he sleep? (Hint: first remember how many hours are from 5 in the morning to 5 in the afternoon.)

Big kids: If you can turn your head exactly to each side, that's 180 degrees of a circle. Owls, though, can swing their heads 270 degrees. How many degrees farther can they turn their heads? Bonus: Owls need their field of vision to hunt because they have a big appetite: A family of 5 owls can eat 3,000 mice a year! How many mice is that per owl?

Wee ones: 8 eyes.

Little kids: 28 inches taller. Bonus: 14 hours.

Big kids: 90 degrees more (a quarter of the way around). Bonus: 600 mice.


A message from Laura:   Bedtime Math is a 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.  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 we email parents a fun, lively math problem every day to do with their kids – and every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!  

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