When you were born, you were pretty small: just a few pounds and less than 2 feet long. But giant pandas, even though they’re giant, are even tinier when they’re born! This picture shows a giant panda cub born at a zoo in Belgium. The baby boy looked like a “little pink sausage,” and weighed only 6 ounces — about the same as 3 regular candy bars. Any time a giant panda is born in a zoo, it’s super exciting news because it almost never happens. Maybe that’s why our friend Torben H. asked us, how many pandas are there in the world? (with a great drawing, too!) It turns out there are only 1,864 giant pandas in the world, with about 300 of those in zoos, so every baby makes a giant difference. In Chinese tradition the baby won’t be named until 100 days after its birthday…and if we do some math, we can find out when that will be.
Wee ones: If you have 2 legs and a baby panda has 4, who has more?
Little kids: If the mama panda has 4 fuzzy feet and the baby has 4 not-yet-so-fuzzy feet, how many feet do they have together? Bonus: The mama panda, Hao Hao, is 6 years old. How much older or younger than that are you?
Big kids: Another giant panda cub was born in Washington, DC on August 23, 2013. How long ago was that, in years and days? (Today is Sept. 1, 2018.) Bonus: There are 1,864 giant pandas in the world, and 300 of them are in zoos. How many pandas are in the wild?
The sky’s the limit: The panda cub was born on June 2, and will be named on his 100th day of life. On what date will that happen? (Remember: the date of birth, June 2, counts as day 1! Also, June has 30 days, but July and August each have 31.)
Wee ones: The baby panda has more, even if they’re smaller!
Little kids: 8 panda feet. Bonus: Different for everyone…subtract your age from 6, or subtract 6 from your age. If you’re 6, you’re the same.
Big kids: 5 years 9 days ago, since Aug. 31 would have been 5 years and 1 day ago. Bonus: 1,564 pandas.
The sky’s the limit: On September 9.
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.