At Bedtime Math, the mission is to make the nightly math problem as common as the bedtime story.  Bedtime Math is the brainchild of Laura Bilodeau Overdeck.  Laura has no professional training in teaching, but she does know something about numbers.  As a kid she sat and memorized perfect squares for fun, back before it was cool.  As a mom, she (along with her husband John) started giving math problems to their two older kids; when their 2-year-old started hollering for his own math problem, they knew they were onto something, and Bedtime Math was born.  Laura holds a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA in public policy from the Wharton School.  When not playing with numbers, Laura pursues her other interests, which include chocolate, wine, extreme gravity stunts, and Lego Mindstorms.

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Bee What You Eat

The winning photo of 2012 on Wikimedia is this fabulous picture of the bee-eater, so it’s a great time to talk about these pretty birds with the not-so-pretty diet. As you can guess from their name, bee-eaters eat bees, as well as wasps and ants. Bees and wasps have stingers, though, and you never want to bite into food that can bite back at you. So the bee-eater takes the bug and smacks it on the tree branch to break off the stinger and leak out all the venom (poisonous stinger liquid). Honestly, it doesn’t sound so great for either the bug or the bird, but as you see in the photo, bee-eaters must like it: they work hard at catching their moving meals.

Wee ones: 7 out of 10 bugs that a bee eater eats are bees and wasps. How many bugs out of those 10 are something else (hopefully with no stinger)?

Little kids: Bee eaters lay between 2 and 9 eggs at once. If a mama bee-eater lays 9 one season and 6 the next, how many eggs did she lay? Bonus: If those first 9 eggs hatch 9 hungry baby birds, and each one wants 2 bees to eat right away, how many bees do the mom and dad have to catch for them?

Big kids: Since they have to catch bugs in motion, bee-eaters can see really, really far. European bee-eaters can apparently see a bug from 60 meters away, and the blue-cheeked bee-eater can see them from 100 meters away! How much farther can the blue-cheeked fellow see? (FYI, a meter is a little longer than 3 feet.) Bonus: On average, 7 out of every 10 bugs (70%) that a bee-eater eats will be bees or wasps. If a bee-eater eats 80 bugs one day, how many bees and wasps would you expect altogether?

Answers:

Wee ones: 3 bugs of other types.

Little kids: 15 eggs total. Bonus: 18 bugs.

Big kids: 40 meters farther. Bonus: 56 bees and wasps.