Running a zoo is a lot of work: feeding all the animals, scooping their poop, and keeping animals from chasing (and eating) each other. For that last one, people who build the zoo walls really need to know how high animals can jump. A jaguar can leap 10 feet high off the ground, and some kangaroos can rocket 20 feet through the air. An anteater, though, isn’t quite as bouncy…he probably needs just a 3-foot fence. Other animals might climb instead, so their walls had better be slippery. Good thing the giraffes can’t jump!
Wee ones: Which is higher, the antelope’s 8-foot fence or the anteater’s 3-foot fence?
Little kids: If a 6-foot anteater that tries REALLY hard can jump 3 feet, and you can jump 1 foot farther, how far can you jump? Bonus: A red kangaroo can jump 25 feet. If the stream around his pen is just 2 feet wider than that, how wide is the stream?
Big kids: If a red kangaroo makes 3 25-foot leaps in a row, how many feet does it travel? Bonus: If the zoo divides a 50-foot-wide square into 4 equal square pens, with a fence all around, a fence running through the middle back to front, and another through the middle left to right, how much fence does the zoo need?
Wee ones: The antelope’s 8-foot fence.
Little kids: 4 feet. Bonus: 27 feet.
Big kids: 75 feet. Bonus: 300 feet total: 200 around the edge, then a 50-foot piece across and another 50-foot piece back to front.
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.