As much as people like to race against each other, we also like to watch animals race. We have horse racing and dog racing, and in both Australia and the U.S. people even race those big ugly bugs called cockroaches. But as our fan Logan T. asked, how about alligators? Even with their short stumpy legs, alligators can run fast, about 11 miles per hour. Just to compare, the fastest a person has run is about 20 miles per hour, but most people are a lot slower — so if you race against an alligator, he’ll probably win. By the way, you don’t want to race an alligator or even get near one…alligators have teeny brains, less than half a tablespoon in size, so they don’t do much thinking — they just eat anything that moves. So let’s let the gators race against each other.
Wee ones: Who has more legs, an alligator or you? (Reminder: Alligators have 4 legs.)
Little kids: If you did dare to race an alligator, how many legs would the two of you have altogether? Bonus: If the alligator runs the race at 11 miles per hour and you run 2 miles per hour slower, how fast do you run?
Big kids: If the alligator you’re racing can run 11 miles per hour but can swim twice that speed, how fast can that alligator swim? Bonus: Alligators can also stay underwater a lot longer than we can. They can stay under for up to 2 hours if needed. If you can last only 5 minutes, how many more minutes can the alligator last?
Wee ones: The alligator has more legs, even if they’re shorter!
Little kids: 6 legs in total. Bonus: 9 miles per hour.
Big kids: 22 miles per hour. Bonus: 115 minutes.
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.