We love hearing about towns with silly names, and our fan Scott S. just told us about one we didn’t know: Accident, Maryland. How did it get its name? Apparently back in 1774, Lord Baltimore (for whom the big city is named) told people they could move onto his land in western Maryland. Two guys named William Deakins and Brook Beall headed to a certain creek, and started marking off the space they wanted — only to find out that they’d grabbed the same land “by accident.” They were buddies, so they didn’t fight over it — Deakins let Beall take the land. But it also turned out to be only 682 acres, not the 778 that Beall was supposed to get. So there was a math accident in there, too!
Wee ones: The town of Accident is roughly a rectangle. Can you find 2 things in your room that are rectangles?
Little kids: If there are 5 trees on your street block, and you pick out one for your treehouse, how many trees are left for other kids? Bonus: If you start building your treehouse on a Tuesday and finish 3 days later, when do you finish?
Big kids: If there are 24 trees in the park, and 10 kids come along and each picks a tree for a treehouse…then 18 more kids pick trees, at least how many “accidents” of picking the same tree have to happen? Bonus: The Accident accident happened in 1774. How long ago was that before the year 2017, when we heard about it here?
Wee ones: Answers might include a shoebox, a book cover, a door, or the front of a dresser drawer.
Little kids: 4 trees. Bonus: On Friday.
Big kids: At least 4 accidents. Bonus: 243 years before.
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.