It’s Australia Day, a great chance to talk about all the cool animals that live in Australia, like kangaroos, koalas…and wombats. So what is a wombat, anyway? It’s a marsupial just like kangaroos and koalas, meaning its babies right after birth climb into their mom’s pouch. They stay there for weeks or even months to keep growing. But wombats “burrow,” meaning they dig long tunnels in the ground, so their pouches face backwards. Otherwise their pouches would keep scooping up dirt and filling up, which would not be much fun for the baby wombats. After all, hanging out in a dark, boring pouch isn’t so great to begin with.
Wee ones: Wombats can be sandy-colored, brown, grey or black. How many colors is that?
Little kids: How many more legs than you does a wombat have? (Hint if needed: A wombat has 4.) Bonus: There are 3 species, or types, of wombats. If you have 3 of each as pets, how many wombats do you have?
Big kids: If a baby wombat is born mid-April and stays in the pouch for 6 months, in what month will the baby come out? Bonus: Wombats can weigh between 44 and 77 pounds. If you sneak the lightest possible one and the heaviest one into your backpack, how much wombat weight are you carrying?
The sky’s the limit: Kangaroos hop around on 2 legs, while wombats use all 4. If a bunch of kangaroos and wombats have 50 legs on the ground and there are twice as many wombats as kangaroos, how many do you have of each?
Wee ones: 4 wombat colors.
Little kids: 2 more legs. Bonus: 9 wombats.
Big kids: In mid-October. Bonus: 121 pounds of wombat.
The sky’s the limit: 5 kangaroos and 10 wombats. If there are 2 wombats for each kangaroo, then each “set” of 2 wombats and a kangaroo has 10 legs in total. 50 legs means you have 5 of these groups, so there are 5 kangaroos (1 from each group) and 10 wombats (2 from each group).
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.