Picking the Winners

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.

Picking the Winners

November 4, 2014

Today is Election Day, when grown-ups get to choose the people they want to have running our government. The United States has a government led by the President, as well as senators and congressmen and -women from each state; then each of the 50 states has a government, led by your Governor, and thousands of towns and cities out there have their own governments. So a lot of people are running for office today! each of them hoping to get the most votes so they win. Election Day has always been the first Tuesday after the first Monday of November since before we had cars. It was set in November after farmers had finished harvesting crops but before the bad winter weather had started. And it was set on Tuesday so people could worship on Sunday if they chose, ride to their county seat on Monday (which might have taken hours by horse and buggy), and vote Tuesday. Someday when you’re 18 you’ll get to vote, too — and maybe you’ll want to run for office yourself!

Wee ones: Election Day is always Tuesday. What day of the week is always the next day?

Little kids: How many years do you have until you turn 18? (Or for those who are already 18, for how long have you been able to vote?)  Bonus: The person who wins 1 more than half the votes wins. If your class of 20 kids votes for a class president, at least how many votes does that person need?

Big kids: Each of the 50 states has 2 senators. If you’re one of them, how many fellow senators do you have in total?  Bonus: What’s the latest date in November that Election Day can land on?

The sky’s the limit: Suppose 3 people in your class of 20 decide to run for office, and they all have a mascot: a pet dog, a pet lizard and a pet frog. If the frog candidate gets 3 times as many votes as the dog candidate, and the lizard candidate gets 5 more votes than the dog candidate, who won and how many votes did each one get?

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones: Wednesday.

Little kids: Different for everyone…subtract your age from 18, or subtract 18 from your age. Bonus: 11 votes, since 10 and 10 would be a tie.

Big kids: 99 senators.  Bonus: November 8, since the latest possible first Monday is November 7.

The sky’s the limit: The frog candidate wins with 9 votes, the dog owner gets 3 votes and the lizard kid gets 8 votes. Using algebra, we know that:
d + l + f = 20
and
f = 3d
and
l = d + 5

Substituting those into the first equation, we get
d+3d+d+5=20
5d + 5 = 20
5d = 15, so d = 3 = votes for the dog owner. We then know the frog got 3 times as many, which is 9, and the lizard got 5 more than the dog owner, which gives us 8.

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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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