Too Big for the Camera

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.

Too Big for the Camera

November 8, 2014

All the trees swaying above our heads seem pretty tall. And they are: maples grow to 30 feet and up, pines reach 40 to 60 feet, and oaks can reach 80 feet. But that’s nothing compared to the sequoia, which can grow hundreds of feet tall with a trunk as wide as a house. One sequoia in California, named The President, is so huge that it can’t even fit into a photo! You’d have to stand so far away with your camera that you wouldn’t be able see it through the other trees. So some folks at National Geographic decided to make a photo of it by stitching together lots of little photos. This 3,200-year-old tree is 247 feet tall, and those teeny-looking photographers and scientists needed to use ropes and pulleys to climb the tree and take thousands of photos. From those they chose 126 pictures that together make a full picture of the tree. Thankfully it takes a lot less work to snap photos of ourselves!

Wee ones: The trunk of a sequoia can be as wide as 40 feet! Which is wider, that or your 8-foot wide car?

Little kids: If this 247-foot President grows to be 1 foot taller in a couple of years, how tall will it be? Bonus: On the Big Tree Registry you can look up all the officially named trees in your state! Oregon has 9, and California has 8 more than that. How many does California have?

Big kids: If the 126 photos were lined up in 2 tall columns of equal length, how many would be in each one?  Bonus: If instead the final picture had 15 more photos up and down than the number across, how many photos tall and wide would the final picture have to be?

Answers:
Wee ones: The tree trunk…you could carve a tunnel and drive right through.

Little kids: 248 feet.  Bonus: 17 trees.

Big kids: 63 photos in each.  Bonus: 21 photos up and down, and 6 across.

And thank you to Emily B. for this fabulous story, and to Laurel P. for the tree registry!

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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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