People in space get to float around inside the spaceship, eat food by squirting it, and pee through a tube. Well, plants can have a wild time up there too. 265 cherry stones (seeds) from a thousand-year-old Japanese tree went into space in 2008 on board the International Space Station. They flew around Earth for months before coming back down. Some seeds were then planted, and grew into trees years sooner than they should have — and with flowers the wrong shape! They have only 5 petals instead of the 30 or so in your usual fluffy cherry blossom. The question is, how will the cherries from these trees taste? Out of this world.
Wee ones: If the tree was planted 7 years ago, are you older or younger than that tree?
Little kids: If cherry trees should take 10 years to bloom and this one took 5 years, how many years early are these flowers? You can count up from 5 to find out! Bonus: If they planted 19 of the space seeds, then decide to plant 1 more, how many seeds were planted?
Big kids: If 4 trees each grow 400 cherries, how many space cherries do we get? (Hint if needed: what if each tree grew just 40 cherries? And how would this answer differ?) Bonus: If a cherry pie needs 200 cherries, how many out-of-this-world cherry pies can you bake?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…see if your age in years is more or less than 7!
Little kids: 5 years too early. Bonus: 20 seeds.
Big kids: 1,600 cherries. Bonus: 8 cherry pies.
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.