We all like different music from each other. You and your friend might like some of the same songs, but not every song, and your parents definitely don’t like all the same songs as you. So what about cows? Do cows all like the same music? And is there one song they like best? Scientists studied this a few years ago by playing music for cows, to see if the cows made more milk during certain songs. They found that when listening to songs with fewer than 100 beats a minute, the cows gave 3% more milk. That means that in the time the farmers normally got 100 cups from them, they now got an extra 3 cups. Even after discovering this, we still don’t know why this happens — or more importantly, whether the milk and butter taste any better.
Wee ones: If this picture shows 6 cows and 9 women playing music for them, were there more people or cows in the barn?
Little kids: There were 6 songs the cows liked best, all by different singers. If one was by Aretha Franklin, how many other singers made the list with her? Bonus: If your list of favorite songs has 10 more songs than that, how many favorite songs do you have?
Big kids: If 60 cows listened to the music and 1/2 of them made more milk, for how many cows did the test work? Bonus: If you normally jump 2 feet off the ground, but can jump 17 inches higher than that when you hear your favorite song, how high can you jump now? (Reminder: A foot has 12 inches.)
Wee ones: More women than cows.
Little kids: 5 other cow singers. Bonus: 16 songs.
Big kids: 30 cows. Bonus: 41 inches, since you normally jump 24 inches.
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.