As beautiful as a rose is, a dozen is even more beautiful — so how about 18 million of them? Every New Year’s Day or close to it, the city of Pasadena, California holds the giant Rose Parade. The parade first ran on New Year’s Day in 1890, and the Rose Bowl football game started in 1902 to help pay for it. For the Rose Parade, people build giant “floats,” decorated rolling structures where every shape and surface is filled in with flowers. As you see in the photo, using different colored flowers you can make animals, people, plants, buildings, and all kinds of designs. This year’s parade will have 44 floats, along with 400 horses and 21 marching bands. Let’s just hope those horses aren’t allergic to flowers.
Wee ones: If an eye on a float’s face uses 6 flowers and an ear uses 9, which ones uses more?
Little kids: If you’re adding 10 roses for a tiger’s eye and you’ve placed 7 so far, how many more do you need? Bonus: To fill 1 square foot on a float, you need either 20 daisies or 30 roses. How many more roses than daisies do you need to fill that square foot?
Big kids: You need 30 roses to fill 1 square foot, but just 20 daisies. If a flag decoration needs 4 square feet of red roses and 5 square feet of white daisies, which flower do you need more of? Bonus: The floats have to collapse to 16 1/2 feet to fit under the highway overpasses (bridges). If a Statue of Liberty float is 20 feet tall, how much does she have to smush down to fit? (Hint if needed: What if it had to smush down just to 17 feet?)
The sky’s the limit: It takes 36 marigolds to fill 1 square foot of float, or 20 roses. If a giant parrot’s wing uses full square-foot sets of flowers and has 184 in total, how many square feet of each flower does it use?
Wee ones: The ear uses more.
Little kids: 3 more flowers. Bonus: 10 more flowers.
Big kids: More roses. You need 120 roses, but just 100 daisies. Bonus: 3 1/2 feet.
The sky’s the limit: It must use 4 square feet of marigolds and 2 square feet of daisies. The total ends in a 4, and the only multiple of 36 ending in a 4 that’s less than 184 is 144 (4 x 36). That leaves 40 more flowers, which would be 2 sets of daisies.
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.