Most of us don’t live on farms, but we all know a rooster’s crow means it’s time to wake up. Roosters like their role as alarm clock — and they work like clocks more than we realized. Scientists figured out that even when roosters stay in a dim room all day and all night, the birds crowed at the right time anyway! It’s as if they have a clock inside them. Even wackier is that roosters crow in order based on who’s boss. Many animals have a “pecking order,” meaning they all know which bird, bear or gorilla is the biggest and scariest. Roosters all let the big “alpha” rooster crow first, then the others crow in order by less and less bossiness. Even if you sleep through your clock alarm, these guys will wake you up!
Wee ones: If 8 roosters have crowed, what number rooster crows next?
Little kids: Roosters actually crow about 2 hours before sunrise. If the sun rises in your town at 7:00 am, at what time would roosters crow there? Bonus: Once the sun rises, how many hours pass until the rooster crows again the next morning? (Reminder: There are 24 hours in a day.)
Big kids: If 4 roosters — Redford, Rickles, Rupert and Ray — all agree to shuffle their order of crowing every day, from how many line-ups can they choose? Bonus: If instead they assign numbers for pecking order 1 through 4, and Redford’s, Rupert’s and Ray’s numbers add up to the same as Ray’s number times itself (“squared”), what number did Ray have to get?
Wee ones: Number 9.
Little kids: At 5:00 am. Bonus: 22 hours.
Big kids: It will be 4 x 3 x 2 x 1, or 24 line-ups. Once you choose 1 of the 4 for the 1st slot, you have 3 choices for the 2nd, giving you 4 x 3 pairs. Then each of those pairs has 2 choices for the 3rd slot (now we have 4 x 3 x 2), and then each of those triplets just gets the leftover in the last slot. Bonus: Ray has to be #3. The only set of 3 numbers that can add up to a perfect square (a number times itself) is 2 + 3+ 4. That adds up to 9, which is 3 x 3.
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.