What’s Flying over Your Head

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.

What’s Flying over Your Head

December 10, 2014

Satellites are pieces of equipment that fly high up in space around Earth. They send us our phone calls and pictures that show up on the computer; they show us where we are on the map (GPS); and they can study the stars and other stuff out in space. As you can see on this great webpage, there are more than a thousand of these crazy gadgets up in the sky, flying hundreds of miles over our heads. Some weigh just 2 pounds, like a stack of burgers; others are the size of a schoolbus flying through the air, and weigh as much as 22,000 pounds. And of those 1,200 satellites, more than half have been launched since 2006, since most satellites last only 5-10 years. The crowding is a problem, because if satellites crash into each other they break off parts that become floating “space junk” that hits other satellites…so let’s hope they’re all watching where they’re going.

Wee ones: What shapes can you see on this satellite shown here?

Little kids: Who’s older, you or a satellite launched 2 years after you were born?  Bonus: If 2 satellites crash and one breaks up into 13 pieces while the other splits in half, how many pieces of space junk do we have?

Big kids: The granddaddy of the satellites up there now is Oscar 7, launched in 1974. How old is that one turning this year?  Bonus: Our Earth is a ball about 8,000 miles wide. If a satellite is flying 1,500 miles over our heads, how far is it from the center of the earth?




Wee ones: Circles, squares, rectangles, and even an octagon (8-sided shape).

Little kids: You’re older!  Bonus: 15 pieces.

Big kids: 40 years old.  Bonus: 5,500 miles, since the center of the Earth is another 4,000 below our feet.

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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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