At this time of year we see a lot of pictures of reindeer, often pulling a sled carrying a big fat guy wearing a red suit. Very often those deer have antlers. Do both boy deer and girl deer get them?When do they grow them, and when and why do antlers fall off? It turns out that antlers are the fastest-growing bone of any mammal, growing up to 1 inch per day. On a moose that adds up to a whole pound a day, growing to as much as 80 pounds! Deer antlers weigh only about 3-9 pounds, and usually only boy deer (bucks) grow them. Antlers are fuzzy, covered with a velvety skin that carries blood to help the antlers grow. They sprout the fastest in the spring, when the deer’s brain senses that there’s more daylight and signals to its body to start growing them. The rack reaches full size around August, and the velvet peels off. Deer shed their antlers any time from late December to early March; then spring comes, the sun stays out longer, and the deer start growing a whole new fuzzy set.
Wee ones: Deer, elk, moose and caribou all grow antlers. How many different animals is that?
Little kids: If a deer, elk, moose and caribou each have 2 antlers, how many do they have all together? Bonus: Usually the older a buck, the more points each antler will grow that year. If a young buck has 4 points on each antler and his brother has 7 points on each, how many more in total does his brother have?
Big kids: If 5 deer have 40 points in total on their antlers, how many points does each antler have if all deer and antlers are the same? Bonus: If among 18 deer only some are boys (which have antlers), and there are 6 more antlers than deer, how many boy and girl deer are there?
Wee ones: 4 kinds of animals.
Little kids: 8 antlers. Bonus: 6 more points, since he has 14 vs. 8 (or 3 more per side x 2).
Big kids: 4 points, since each deer has 8 in total. Bonus: 12 boys and 6 girls. There are 24 antlers, so there are 12 deer with them.
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.