Cats love to chase mice, and love to catch them. That usually doesn’t turn out well for the mouse. But if you don’t want live mice running around your house, then a cat can help you a lot. At 10 Downing Street, where the United Kingdom’s Prime Minister lives, there’s an official job for a cat called Chief Mouser. It’s all pretty simple: the cat lives in the house, and knows what to do without being told. They’ve had an official mouse-catching cat since the year 1515, as house mice were a problem back then too. The cat who was Chief Mouser the longest was Wilberforce, who served for 18 years under 4 Prime Ministers in a row. It must be nice to have a job where all you have to do is eat!
Wee ones: Wilberforce was Chief Mouser for 4 PMs, ending with Margaret Thatcher. How many Prime Ministers did Wilberforce serve before her?
Little kids: If Chief Mouser catches a mouse, how many feet do they have together? Bonus: If Wilberforce served for 18 years. how much longer than your whole life is that?
Big kids: If the Chief Mouser is fed 2 meals a day and also catches 1 mouse every day, how many times does the cat eat in 1 week? Bonus: If the Chief Mouser catches 3 new mice every day, how many mice does the Chief Mouser catch this month? (Reminder: March has 31 days).
The sky’s the limit: We can’t tell you how many mice the Chief Mouser likes to eat each day, but if you multiply that number by itself and add 6, you get 42. How many mystery mice does the Chief Mouser eat?
Wee ones: 3 more Prime Ministers.
Little kids: 8 feet. Bonus: Different for everyone…subtract your age in years from 18. If you’re 18 or older, you can find out how much longer you’ve lived!
Big kids: 21 meals per week. Bonus: 93 mice.
The sky’s the limit: 6 mice. If we added 6 to the number as the last step, we had 42 – 6 = 36 before that. The number that we multiply by itself (or “square”) to get 36 is 6, meaning that 6 is the “square root.”
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.