When you think of a speedy animal, we bet you don’t think of turtles or tortoises. After all, the tortoise was the slow guy in that story with the hare. But some tortoise out there has to be the fastest one. Last fall, Bertie broke the world record for a tortoise “running” on a track. He crawled almost 18 feet in less than 20 seconds. That’s about 2/3 of a mile per hour…just to compare, we people walk about 3 miles an hour. He was more than twice as fast as the previous record, set in 1977 by a tortoise named Charlie. That said, no matter how you do the math, Bertie can’t beat a speedy rabbit — unless that rabbit really screws up.
Wee ones: Walk across your room. Now run back across your room. Which way were you faster?
Little kids: Bertie “runs” about 1 foot each second. How many feet does he run in 5 seconds? Bonus: Who’s faster, a tortoise at 90 feet per second or a rabbit at 900 feet per second?
Big kids: If Bertie could run 18 feet in 20 seconds, how far could he run in 40 seconds at the same speed? Bonus: Bertie takes 1 hour to run 2/3 of a mile. How fast can a rabbit running 60 miles an hour run it? (Hint: How far does that rabbit run in 1 minute?)
Wee ones: You were faster when you ran!
Little kids: 5 feet. Bonus: The rabbit is faster.
Big kids: 36 feet, since he has twice as much time. Bonus: In 2/3 of a minute, or 40 seconds!
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.