Have you ever seen a squirrel skittering around with its cheeks full of food? Squirrels gather seeds and nuts and bury them underground to dig up later during winter, when it’s not so easy to find fresh food. Well, thanks to one forgetful squirrel long ago, scientists found a batch of 32,000-year-old seeds, and grew one into a plant! The seed had been buried by an Ice Age squirrel, and had stayed covered by over 100 feet of snow ever since. The cold kept the seeds from rotting, so when the scientists watered them, they grew into flowers. Squirrels forget 3 out of every 4 seeds they bury, leaving them to turn into plants someday. We’re glad our furry friends are so confused!
Wee ones: A seed can fit on the tip of your finger. Try to find 1 thing of that size in your room.
Little kids: If a squirrel can stuff 10 seeds into 1 cheek and 2 acorns into the other, how many yummy treats can she carry? Bonus: How many more seeds than acorns does she have?
Big kids: If a squirrel buries 16 acorns and finds only 1 out of each set of 4, how many does he dig up? Bonus: If he buries 60 acorns the next year, how many will he forget?
Wee ones: Items might include a button or a tiny piece of Lego.
Little kids: 12 treats. Bonus: 8 more seeds than acorns.
Big kids: 4 acorns. Bonus: 45 acorns, since he’ll dig up only 15.
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.