Coming Right Back at You

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Coming Right Back at You

April 8, 2016

Boomerangs are a wacky toy. Usually when you throw something, like a ball, a Frisbee, or the yucky part of your dinner, it flies away from you — and stays there. Someone has to throw it back, or maybe your dog will fetch it for you. But with boomerangs, you don’t need a helper. A boomerang is a curved stick that flies away from you, but turns around in the air and comes back to you! How does it do that? The two sides of the boomerang aren’t shaped exactly the same. So the wind passes under one “wing” at a different speed from the other wing. This makes the boomerang fly on a tilt, which makes it turn in a big loop and come right back. It doesn’t always work, but the farthest-flying boomerang sailed 780 feet from the thrower — more than 1/10 of a mile! That saved the thrower’s dog a long walk to bring it back.

Wee ones: If your 3rd boomerang throw comes back to you, then your 4th throw, then your 6th, what number throw didn’t come back?

Little kids: Which flies farther, a 300-foot boomerang throw or a 40-foot throw?  Bonus: If you throw your boomerang 10 feet farther than 40 feet, how far does it fly?

Big kids: The longest-flying boomerang flew 2 minutes 59 seconds. If it had stayed in the air 1 second longer, how much time would that have been?  Bonus: If you threw a boomerang with superhero strength for 1,000 feet, by how much would you break the 780-foot record?




Wee ones: The 5th throw.

Little kids: The 300-foot throw.  Bonus: 50 feet.

Big kids: 3 minutes, since that’s the same as 2 minutes 60 seconds!  Bonus: By 220 feet.

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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