Okay, let’s just say it: the squid is not the cutest animal out there. It’s slimy instead of fuzzy, and you can hardly tell where its face is. But the squid shows us that you don’t have to be good-looking to be smart. It’s one of the smartest animals in the ocean. Sea divers say that when you stare into a squid’s eyes, it will stare right back at you, which must feel really weird. And scientists have found that the cells in a squid’s brain work a lot like our brains. It’s a busy brain, after all, since the squid has to track all those legs. Just to set the numbers straight, a squid has 8 “arms” and 2 much longer “tentacles” – which makes for some crazy math.
Wee ones: How many arms do the people in your room have? Do they have as many as a squid?
Little kids: If you’ve counted 4 of a squid’s 8 arms, what are the next 3 numbers you say? Bonus: An octopus has 8 arms! (And no tentacles.) How many arms do an octopus and squid have together?
Big kids: Squid squirt out ink to fight off enemies. If you could make 10 magic markers from each squirt of ink, can you make 52 markers from 6 squirts? Bonus: If a bunch of squid at the aquarium have 48 arms in total, how many squid live there?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…count yours, a grown-up’s, maybe the arms on a doll!
Little kids: 5, 6, 7. Bonus: 16 arms, since it’s 8 + 8.
Big kids: Yes, because the 6 squirts can make 60 markers. Bonus: 6 squid (again, each has only 8 “arms”).
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.