Do Flying Fish Really Fly?

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.

Do Flying Fish Really Fly?

November 21, 2018

flying-fish-cartoonWhen you throw a ball, is it flying? Well, not like a bird or a bumblebee. They fly for real because they work to hold themselves up. And in this great picture from our friend Matthew Peterson, creator of ST Math, the math shows that flying fish fly for real, too. If you threw a ball (or a regular fish), it would follow the red line and plop back down into the water. But we see from the shape of a flying fish’s path that they stay in the air longer than a ball would. The fish close their fins while swimming, and zoom at up to 37 miles an hour before “taking off.” Then, by holding their fins open like wings, they can glide up to 4 feet above the water. That’s how they get away from non-flying fish who try to eat them!

Wee ones: Pick up 2 things you’re allowed to throw, and toss them in the same direction. Which one hit the floor farther from you? Did either one move farther than that?

Little kids: Point to the 4th fish picture from the left in the bottom picture. Is that the highest the fish flew?  Bonus: Of the 13 fish pictures in the bottom picture, how many come after the 4th?

Big kids: If a flying fish swims 10 seconds to take off, then flies for 2, then swims for 10, flies for 2…what is it doing at 30 seconds?  Bonus: How much time does it spend flying in 1 minute, if it starts with a 10-second swim?











Wee ones: Different for everyone…you might toss a ball, a stuffed animal, or a bean bag. The ball might keep rolling!

Little kids: The fish at the 5th, 6th,7th, 8th and 9th spots are higher.  Bonus: 9 more fish pictures.

Big kids: It’s swimming. It finished its last flight at 24 seconds.  Bonus: 10 seconds, since it does 5 flights (5 12-second chunks). Another way to get it: it spends 1/6 of each 12-second chunk flying, and since the minute contains complete sets of 12 seconds, it spends 1/6 of the minute in the air.

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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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