Usually when you throw something — a ball, a Frisbee, or the yucky part of your dinner — it flies away from you and falls to the ground. But a boomerang turns around and flies back at you! Why? It’s a curved stick with 2 slightly-different shaped sides. So the wind passes under one “wing” at a different speed from the other wing. This makes the boomerang fly on a tilt, which sends it in a big loop that (usually) comes back to you. The farthest-flying boomerang sailed 780 feet from the thrower — more than 1/10 of a mile! That saved his dog a long walk to fetch it.
Wee ones: Boomerangs are curved, not straight. Find 2 straight lines in your room, and 2 curved lines.
Little kids: If your 3rd boomerang throw comes back to you, then your 4th throw, then your 6th, what number throw didn’t come back? Bonus: Which flies farther, a 100-foot boomerang throw or a 40-foot throw?
Big kids: The longest-flying boomerang flew 2 minutes 59 seconds. If it had stayed in the air 1 second longer, how much time would that have been? Bonus: If your boomerang flies 38 feet out, your friend’s throw flies 60 feet, and your next throw flies halfway between those 2 distances, how far did your boomerang fly?
Wee ones: Straight items might include the edges of doors, windows, or the bed; curved lines might include edges of doorknobs, clocks, or squiggly lines on clothing.
Little kids: The 5th throw. Bonus: The 100-foot throw.
Big kids: 3 minutes, since that’s the same as 2 minutes 60 seconds! Bonus: 49 feet.
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.