So today is Talk Like a Pirate Day. These bad guys dressed in crazy clothes have been around hundreds of years, capturing ships and stealing their money. “Sea Dog” Francis Drake was actually paid by the Queen of England to attack Spain’s ships. But let’s give them credit: pirates had to be good at math. Back in the 1600s sailors didn’t have phones or even good maps. So they used the sun to figure out where they were. They could tell how far north they were by the height of the sun at noon. But east/west was much harder: the sun rises everywhere at some time, so how did you know how far west you’d sailed? Finally they realized that if you measured how long you’d sailed using a clock, you could figure it out. And that was a good reason to say “Aarrghhh!”
Wee ones: Look at a clock that has hands (not just numbers). Point to the short hand. Now point to the long hand.
Little kids: If 4 pirates on a ship yell “Avast!” and 3 other pirates yell “Aarrghhh!”, how many pirates are talking like pirates? Bonus: Who has more treasure together: the 4 pirates who each have 2 gold coin, or the 3 pirates who each have 3 gold coins?
Big kids: If each of 30 pirates trains his parrot to talk, and 1/2 of them get their parrot to say “Ahoy!”, how many parrots learn to say “Ahoy!”? Bonus: If instead, 16 of the parrots learn to say “Landlubbers!” and 18 parrots learn “Shiver me timbers!” at least how many parrots must have learned both?
Wee ones: Find the “hour” hand (the short one), then the “minute” hand (the long one).
Little kids: 7 pirates. Bonus: The 3 pirates with 3 coins apiece, since they have 9 vs. 8.
Big kids: 15 parrots. Bonus: 4 parrots, since 16 and 18 together would be 34.
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.