Cross-Country Crawl

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.

Cross-Country Crawl

June 30, 2016

The ant is one of the strongest animals out there. Sure, ants are tiny and can carry only a crumb or a teeny piece of a leaf. But as compared to their own body weight, ants rule. As we’ve talked about here, some ants can carry 50 times their own weight! So our friend and fan Sara D. asked, how long would it take for an army of ants to pick her up and carry her across the U.S.? Well, as we told our fan Sophia Y., about 1,800 ants can lift 1 pound. So a 70-pound kid would need an army of 126,000 ants to do the job. Even without carrying a big load, the fastest ants can run is about 900 feet in an hour. So to travel the 2,680 miles across the US, even at top speed the ants would need 15,722 hours for the trip, which is almost 2 years. At that point, maybe it’s easier to take a plane!

Wee ones: Ants have 6 legs, like any insect. What numbers would you say to count them?

Little kids: If 1 ant takes 5 months to cross Texas and another ant takes 11 months, which ant walked more slowly?  Bonus: If the ants start their trip in April, what is their 2nd month of walking?

Big kids: If ants start carrying you across the U.S. today (in June 2016), in what month will they finish if it takes 22 months?  Bonus: In what month will you be halfway across?

The sky’s the limit: If really slow ants take 50 years to carry you across America, and your age at the end is 6 times your starting age, how old were you at the start?




Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Little kids: The ant that took 11 months.  Bonus: May.

Big kids: In April 2018, since it’s just 2 months short of 2 years.  Bonus: 11 months from now, which is May 2017.

The sky’s the limit: If your starting age was just 1/6 of the total, then the 50 years added the other 5/6 of the total. 50 is 5/6 of 60, so you began the trip at 60 – 50 = 10 years old.

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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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