Wait — how can these peaches and cherries grow on the same tree? Well, a guy named Sam Van Aken creates trees that grow lots of kinds of fruit. He “grafts” trees together, meaning he cuts off one tree’s branch and ties it to a cut in another tree’s trunk. If it works, they grow into one happy tree. Peaches and cherries work because they’re cousins — they’re both stone fruits (they have a pit inside). Sam’s trees can bear up to 40 kinds of fruit, and flowers to match! It’s like someone giving you a rabbit’s ears or an anteater’s nose… except a lot better-looking.
Wee ones: If Sam’s tree has flowers in white, pink, purple, orange and magenta, how many colors is that?
Little kids: If you pick fruit to bake a cherry pie, then a peach pie, then a cherry pie, then a peach pie…what should you bake next to keep the pattern? Bonus: How would you count up the tree’s 40 fruits by 10s?
Big kids: What if a tree could grow snacks? If your tree grows potato chips, pretzel sticks, and Cheetos, and you pick 1 snack type each day cycling in that order, how many days until you’ve picked 25 of each snack? Bonus: If it grows 40 snacks and you pick a new snack each day, then after the 40 you start over in the same order, how many full times will you cycle through all snack types in 1 year? (Reminder: A year has 365 days; a leap year has 366.)
Wee ones: 5 colors.
Little kids: A cherry pie. Bonus: 10, 20, 30, 40.
Big kids: 75 days. Bonus: 9 full cycles, since that brings you to 360 and you can’t then fit another cycle.
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.