Can you imagine waiting 11 *months* to eat? That’s life for the arctic woolly bear moth. While many animals “hibernate,” or sleep through winter to survive the cold, Arctic moths also sleep most of the summer. They spend 95% of their lives frozen, and wake up just for June. Then they have to do all their eating for the year in just 3-4 weeks. When they’re done feasting, they wrap themselves in a cocoon until the next summer. In this photo the moth is still a cute, fuzzy caterpillar; it takes 7 to 14 years of this weird life to eat enough to turn into a moth with wings. As humans, we’re very lucky to eat every day.
Wee ones: If a fuzzy caterpillar just became a moth at 9 years old, is it older or younger than you?
Little kids: If that 9-year-old moth’s buddy took 1 year longer to become a moth, how old is the buddy? Bonus: If you spent the month of June eating and slept the rest of the year, how many months each year would you sleep?
Big kids: If you got a pet arctic woolly bear caterpillar today and it became a moth 14 years from now, how old would you be then? Bonus: What fraction of your life do you spend eating compared to these caterpillars? If you eat 3 meals a day and spend 1 hour on each, what fraction of your day (and your life) is that?
Wee ones: Different for everyone…talk about whether you’re older or younger than 9 years.
Little kids: 10 years old. Bonus: 11 months.
Big kids: Different for everyone…add 14 to your age. Bonus: 1/8, since it’s 3 hours out of 24 hours in a day.
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.