Nevada’s name means “snow-covered.” That’s funny, since it’s the driest state in America! The state gets only about 9 inches of rain all year, though some spots get up to 40 inches. And on cold mountaintops, that turns into snow. Sometimes “dry” can mean “boring,” but Nevada’s deserts are exciting. There are wild creatures and spiky plants, and even the rocks there are cool! Valley of Fire State Park has amazing striped and swirling rock formations. These stones were made millions of years ago from sand dunes. Since then, wind has shaped them into smooth and surprising shapes. The patterns on the stone look almost like bacon.
Wee ones: Snow is white. See if you can find 5 white things in the room.
Little kids: If there’s a 5-inch wide red sandstone stripe and an 8-inch wide tan sandstone stripe poking out of the ground, how much more tan sandstone is showing? Bonus: If the first red stripe on a rock is 1 inch tall, the 2nd is 2 inches tall, the 3rd is 4 inches tall, how tall do you think the 4th stripe is?
Big kids: If the wettest parts of Nevada get 40 inches of rain, does any place in the state get 4 feet or more of rain? Bonus: The people who visit Las Vegas eat 60,000 pounds of shrimp every day – more than the whole rest of the country! If there are 20 shrimp in 1 pound, how many shrimp are in 60,000 pounds?
Wee ones: White things might include bed sheets, pillows, socks, sneakers, and pieces of paper.
Little kids: 3 more inches of tan sandstone. Bonus: 8 inches tall, because each stripe is twice as tall as the one before it.
Big kids: No, because there are 48 inches in 4 feet – 12 x 4 = 48. Bonus: 1,200,000 shrimp. You can break this into partial products to handle the large numbers: 60,000 x 20 = 60,000 x 10 + 60,000 x 10 = 600,000 + 600,000.
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.