When you think of cute little animals crossing the street, you usually imagine a mama duck and her ducklings, or a chicken and her fluffy chicks. But here in Florida, this mama alligator needs to get to the other side, too, along with all her squiggly kids. In photos like this, alligators almost look like friendly pets. Maybe that’s why we say fun things like “See ya later, Alligator!”, and count off seconds with “One alligator, two alligator…” But while those tiny babies can barely hurt you, grown-up alligators are another story. They have giant mouths filled with sharp teeth. They can also run really fast, around 11 miles an hour. They swim even faster than that. Their name comes from “el lagarto,” which means “the lizard” in Spanish. But you’d rather have a lizard than an alligator as a pet!
Wee ones: How many alligators can you count in the picture, including the mom? Look closely!
Little kids: If the 1st baby alligator marches first with its left foot, the 2nd starts with its right foot, and the 3rd starts with its left…what foot will the 6th baby alligator use? Bonus: Some say if an alligator’s chasing you and you run in a zigzag, it will slow him down. If you slow it from 11 miles an hour to 8 miles an hour, how much did you slow him down?
Big kids: Alligators can fit up to 80 teeth in their mouth at once. If you have 24 teeth right now, how many more does the gator have? Bonus: Alligators lose and grow back those teeth over and over. If that mama alligator has 2,000 teeth over her 40-year life, how many new teeth on average does she grow each year? (Hints if needed: 40 is 4 x 10, so to divide by 40, you can divide by 10, then by 4…and dividing by 4 is like cutting in half twice.)
Wee ones: 9 alligators in total.
Little kids: Its right foot. Bonus: 3 miles an hour slower.
Big kids: 56 more teeth. Bonus: 50 new teeth.
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.