This Week's Bedtime Math Problem: Hair Gone Wild

Humans are stuck with some pretty basic options for hair -- black, blond, brown. But if you&re a butterfly or a cheetah, it can be much more interesting!
By Laura Overdeck
Mar 19, 2013



Mar 19, 2013

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 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!  Check out this week’s problem below.

Animals have all the fun.  While we humans grow hair on our heads that’s basically all one color, animals get to have stripes, spots, spots inside spots, and all kinds of patches and swirls.  Zebras and tigers and skunks sport stripes; leopards and ladybugs and spotted owls have, well, spots.  Meanwhile, giraffes have patches that look kind of like pentagons and hexagons. 

It would be pretty cool if we could grow spots and stripes out of our heads, but for now we’ll have to dye our hair.

Wee ones (counting on fingers): If you have 2 striped skunks and 6 spotted owls, how many animals do you have in total?

Little kids: Zebras look like they’re white with black stripes, but scientists have figured out they’re actually black with white stripes.  Whatever the color, a plains zebra has 26 stripes in total from front to back, counting both black and white.  If that’s the case, how many of those stripes are white?  Bonus: A mountain zebra has 43 stripes total from front to back.  How many more stripes than a plains zebra does a mountain zebra have?

Big kids: Which has more stripes in total, a 50-striped tiger or 2 30-striped tigers?  Bonus: Which has more spots in total, 4 cheetahs with 123 spots each, or a leopard with 456 spots?



Wee ones: 8 animals.

Little kids: 13 white stripes.  Bonus: 17 more stripes.

Big kids: The pair of 30-striped tigers.  Bonus: The cheetahs win, with 492 stripes.

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