The Winter Olympics are winding down, but it looks like squirrels are just getting started with snow sports! We love this snowmobile-riding squirrel — even he seems surprised about it, with that fur on his head sticking straight up. Photographer Geert Weggen of Sweden is an expert at taking pictures of animals. When snow fell in October, he rounded up the neighborhood squirrels for their own winter games, using nuts as treats to “talk” them into it. Of course, Geert couldn’t give these furballs his own giant skis…he had to make squirrel-sized skis, poles, snowmobiles, and trophies, all of which uses math. Check out this page to see the squirrel’s skiing, sliding, snowy friends. Thank you to our fan John O. for finding these — and may the best squirrel win!
Wee ones: A squirrel’s back paw is only about as long as your pinky. Find 3 things in your room as small as that.
Little kids: If Geert fed a squirrel 3 nuts as a treat, then another 3 nuts, how many nuts did the squirrel get? Bonus: Posing the squirrels takes lots of time. If Geert took 4 full days to take the picture above and Tuesday was the 1st day, what day was the 4th?
Big kids: If a squirrel is 12 inches tall and you’re 4 times as tall, how tall are you? Bonus: If you wear 2-foot-long skis and the squirrel needs skis 1/4 as long as yours, how long do the squirrel’s skis need to be, in inches? (Reminder if needed: A foot has 12 inches.)
The sky’s the limit: If your skis are exactly your height in inches, and a squirrel needs skis 1/6 as long, will the squirrel’s skis be a round number of inches?
Wee ones: Items might include erasers, pieces of crayons, marbles, or Lego bricks.
Little kids: 6 nuts. Bonus: Friday.
Big kids: 48 inches, since you’re 4 feet. Bonus: 6 inches, since you need half a foot (or 1/4 of 24 inches).
The sky’s the limit: Different for everyone…for your height to be divisible by 6, it needs to be an even number that’s also divisible by 3. The test for 3 is whether the digits of the number add up to a multiple of 3 themselves.
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.