When You Wish upon a Fluff

When You Wish upon a Fluff

July 29, 2020

You know those cute yellow flowers you see in the grass? Or have you seen round, white poofs of fluff that you can blow into the air to make a wish? Those two flowers are the same flower. They’re called “dandelions,” which comes from the French words for “lion’s tooth.” They’re bright and friendly-looking, but grown-ups can’t stand them. Dandelions are weeds, meaning they suck up more than their share of water and vitamins from the dirt. That makes it harder for grass to grow. But until the 1800s, people used to grow dandelions on purpose. We can eat any part of the flower — the leaves taste pretty good in a salad! Luckily for us, each flower holds up to 400 seeds, which can sail as far as 5 miles. Dandelions are here to stay.

Wee ones: If you have 7 yellow dandelions and 4 white fluffy dandelions, of which kind do you have more?

Little kids: If 1 dandelion seed sails 5 miles in one direction, and another seed flies 5 miles in the opposite direction, what’s the farthest apart they can land?  Bonus: If each time you blow on a dandelion you blow 5 seeds free, how many wishes does it take to blow 20 seeds away? Count up by 5s!

Big kids: Dandelions can have up to 400 seeds, but they usually have around 180. How many more seeds does a mega-fluffy 400-seed dandelion have than the usual?  Bonus: If you blow off 300 seeds, and each of those makes a new flower that sends off 300 seeds, how many seeds sail off in that 2nd round? (Hint if needed: what if each of the 300 sent off just 3 seeds…then what if each sent off 30 seeds instead…then how about 300?)












Wee ones: More yellow dandelions.

Little kids: 10 miles apart.  Bonus: 4 wishes: 5, 10, 15, 20.

Big kids: 220 seeds.  Bonus: 90,000 seeds!

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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 before she could walk, 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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