On Halloween, all kinds of creepy things chase us: witches that fly, skeletons that walk, ghosts and more. Luckily none of those things is for real – but bats sure are. These dark, squeaky animals look like mice with wings, and are the only mammal that can fly (“flying” squirrels just jump). But bats are our friends, because they are flying bug traps. A bat can eat 1/3 of its body weight in bugs in just a few hours. When you think about how little a bug weighs, that’s a LOT of insects. Bats find their food by making a very loud, high-pitched noise that bounces off the bug, and that tells them where to catch it. Bats can be any size from smaller than our hand to nearly 2 feet long…let’s hope that one doesn’t chase you on Halloween.
Wee ones: Hold your arms out to the side like bat wings. Flap them up and down 4 full times!
Little kids: If you and 9 friends dress up as bats for Halloween, how many bats are you altogether? Bonus: How many wings do you all have?
Big kids: If a bat flies 5 feet to catch a bug, then 3 feet from there to catch the next, then 9 feet, then 6 feet, what’s the closest the bat can end up from its starting point? Bonus: If 2,000 bugs together weigh just 1 ounce, how many bugs does a bat catch in 1 pound? (Hint: What if there were just 2 bugs in each ounce? And reminder if needed: A pound has 16 ounces.)
The sky’s the limit: If on Halloween your street block has 36 bats total, and there are 3 times as many real live bats as dress-up bats, how many of those 36 bats are real?
Wee ones: Count to 4 as you flap your wings!
Little kids: 10 bats. Bonus: 20 wings.
Big kids: 1 foot from the start, if it flies forward 5, back 3 (to just 2 feet ahead), back 9 (to 7 behind), and then forward 6. Bonus: 32,000 bugs — yuck!
The sky’s the limit: 27 real bats. However many dress-up bats there are, the real ones add 3 more “sets” that size, making 4 sets total. So there are 9 dress-up bats, giving us 27 for the rest.
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.