This weekend marks the start of the Iditarod Trail Sled Dog Race. It’s the most famous dog-sledding event, often called “The Last Great Race.” Teams of dogs pull sleds for over a THOUSAND miles across freezing cold Alaska. They face ice and snow, a blizzard here and there, and wind chills as low as negative 100 degrees. But even with all that danger and excitement — or maybe because of it — every year since 1973 dozens of “mushers,” or dog-sled drivers, show up with their dog teams to tough it out. As we’ll see here, the more dogs and the lighter the sled, the faster you can go.
Wee ones: How many booties is each dog in the picture wearing?
Little kids: Each team starts with 16 dogs. Can you count from 1 to 16? Try it! Bonus: While the current record is 8 days, one tough year the fastest team took 20 days. How many days longer was that race than the shortest race?
Big kids: If these hard-working dogs each eat 10 pounds of food in a day, how much does a team of 16 dogs need in a day? Bonus: We can’t tell you the biggest number of mushers to finish a race…but if you add 3 to it, then divide by 4, then subtract 5, you get 15. What’s the record number of mushers?
Wee ones: 4 booties.
Little kids: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16. Bonus: 12 days longer.
Big kids: 160 pounds. Bonus: 77 mushers.
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.