This Week from Bedtime Math: Off to the Races

To win the Kentucky Derby, a horse has to be fast and does a crazy name help, too? Either way, it&s a great time to try some Derby Math at home.
By Laura Overdeck
May 07, 2013



This Week from Bedtime Math: Off to the Races

May 07, 2013

The Kentucky Derby may well be America's most famous horse race.  Every May, some of the world’s speediest horses head to a place called Churchill Downs to see which horse is really the fastest.  And lots of people come out to watch, dressed in their fanciest clothes.  One of the more interesting things about the Derby is the names of the horses.  Last year’s field included horses called "Done Talking," "I’ll Have Another," and "Daddy Knows Best;" this year, we have "Charming Kitten" and "Itsmyluckyday."  It seems as if the people who name these horses are thinking more about lots of things besides horses.  Of course, any event involving that many animals, stopwatches, and ladies wearing fancy hats just begs for some math.
Wee ones (counting on fingers): Every horse has a rider, called the jockey.  How many legs do a horse and his jockey have together?

Little kids: If 20 horses run in the race and 4 of them are your favorite horse color, how many are some other color?  Bonus: If the 20 horses each eat 2 pounds of oats before the race, how many pounds of oats do they eat in total?

Big kids: The jockey and the equipment (the jockey's clothes, which are called "silks," and the saddle) have to weigh at least 126 pounds in total, to make it fair (the less weight on the horse, the faster it can run).  If the jockey weighs 111 pounds, how much extra weight do the saddle and silks have to add?  Bonus: With that jockey's equipment, how many more pounds would you have to weigh to be allowed to ride in the Derby?


Wee ones: 6 legs.

Little kids: 16 horses of other colors.  Bonus: 40 pounds of oats.

Big kids: 15 extra pounds.  Bonus: Different for everyone...subtract your weight from 111.

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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