The Bird That’s Flown to the Moon

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.

The Bird That’s Flown to the Moon

June 18, 2014

We know birds migrate, meaning they travel to cool places during the summer, then back to warmer places to spend the winter. What’s incredible is how fast that flying can add up for even the tiniest bird. There’s a red knot (type of bird) who weighs only 4 ounces but has flown 20,000 miles a year since 1995. He flies way up to the Arctic, then always comes back to a beach on Delaware Bay, and thanks to an orange tag stuck around his leg labeled B95, people spot him and know that it’s him. By now he’s 21 years old, and has flown far enough to have traveled all the way to the moon and halfway back, if that’s the direction he had taken (and if he could fly through space where there’s no air to breathe or to push on with his wings to fly). So bird watchers have named him Moonbird. Given that the moon is about 240,000 miles from Earth, we’re glad Moonbird stays down here while flying – it’s much easier to say hi.

Wee ones: If Moonbird actually has 3 bird buddies who fly this trip with him, how many birds are flying in total?

Little kids: If Moonbird shows up in Delaware on Monday and you see him not the next day, or the day after, but 3 days after, what day do you get to see Moonbird?  Bonus: If you ride around in a car for 1,000 miles every year, how many miles have you driven in your life?

Big kids: If Moonbird has been doing these trips since 1995, how many years has he been flying?  Bonus: And if he’s been flying 20,000 miles per year, how many miles has he flown?




Wee ones: 4 birds.

Little kids: On Thursday.  Bonus: Different for everyone…whatever you age is, that’s how many thousands of miles you’ve driven!

Big kids: 19 years.  Bonus: 380,000 miles.

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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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