The poor platypus must feel so confused. It has a duck’s bill, a beaver’s flat tail, and an otter’s feet. It also has no teeth. To top it off, it’s a mammal, but it lays eggs the way a duck would. The platypus is so weird-looking that when English scientists first found it in Australia, they had to bring a few back to England because no one believed any animal could look like that! The platypus is a great swimmer thanks to its otter and beaver body parts, but once it finds food underwater, it brings it up to the surface to chew it up between its gums. And as the math will show, the platypus eats a lot.
Wee ones: A platypus has 4 otter-like feet. What numbers would you say to count them?
Little kids: A platypus eats 1/2 its own weight every night! If it weighs 4 pounds, how much does it eat? Bonus: If you had a pet platypus and a pet otter, how many feet would you all have together? (Hint if needed: Each animal has 4 feet.)
Big kids: If it eats 1/2 its weight every night, how much does a 4-pound platypus eat in March? Bonus: If you ate 1/2 your weight every night, how much would you eat in 10 days?
The sky’s the limit: If you weigh 100 pounds and eat half your weight every day, about how many days will it take you to eat 1 ton of food (2,000 pounds)?
Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4.
Little kids: 2 pounds. Bonus: 10 feet — don’t forget yourself!
Big kids: 62 pounds, since March has 31 days. Bonus: Different for everyone: take your weight in pounds, cut in half, and then tack on a zero at the end to multiply by 10.
The sky’s the limit: Just 40 days, since you’ll eat a whopping 50 pounds a day.
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.