Life as a fish can’t be very exciting, except when some other animal tries to catch you. Well, this stingray has been caught twice by fishermen, and broke a world record both times! Stingrays are very flat, wavy fish with a spike in the back to scare off attackers. Fishermen in Thailand caught a huge stingray that was 8 feet wide — on its side it would stretch from your bedroom floor to the ceiling! It was 14 feet long and weighed between 700 and 800 pounds, making it the world’s biggest stingray. The crazy part is that this same stingray was also caught in 2009, when it was just 6 ½ feet across but 15 feet long (its stinger had broken since). Clearly this fish just likes to show off for us.
Wee ones: A stingray is almost shaped like a circle. Find 4 circle-shaped things in your room.
Little kids: If the stingray was 6 feet long last time and 8 feet long this time, what counting number did we miss in between? Bonus: If you lay facing forward on that 14-foot stingray to ride it, how much longer than you would it be? (You can round your height to the nearest foot.)
Big kids: If the stingray grew from 6 1/2 feet wide to 8 feet wide, how many feet did it grow? Bonus: If you line up a bunch of 14-foot-long stingrays end to end, how few 6-foot-tall people can line up end to end to match exactly a whole number of stingrays? What’s the smallest number that works?
Wee ones: Items might include buttons, smiley faces, and the letter O on a book cover.
Little kids: 7. Bonus: Different for everyone…subtract your height from 14.
Big kids: 1 1/2 feet. Bonus: 7 people. They will stretch 42 feet long, which equals 3 stingrays. 42 is the smallest common product of 14 and 6…both numbers are divisible by 2, so you don’t need to do 14 x 6. 14 x 3 will give you a number that can be divided by both.
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.