What’s that funny-looking bug, and that big smiley sun? They’re hot air balloons flying in the Albuquerque International Balloon Fiesta, which starts today! Hundreds of hot air balloons fly each day, including crazy ones shaped like chickens, cows and trains. The hot air balloon is a pretty simple idea invented in 1783 in France. A flame in the basket at the bottom heats the air in the balloon. So that air weighs less than the sky air around it, which makes the balloon float up. Thanks to that trick, now any animal can fly.
Wee ones: If a sheep, a duck and a rooster flew that very first hot air balloon, how many animals flew it?
Little kids: If there’s a cow balloon, a sheep balloon and a chicken balloon, how many legs do they have? Bonus: While the fly-around-the-world speed record is 13 days, the longest balloon ride took 19 days. How much shorter was the fastest trip?
Big kids: If your rocket balloon can lift 500 pounds and the folks on board already weigh 420 pounds together, how much can you weigh and still ride with them? Bonus: The height record for a hot air balloon is 69,000 feet. If your balloon can fly to only 1/2 that height, how high can you fly?
Wee ones: 3 brave animals.
Little kids: 10 legs (4+4+2). Bonus: 6 days shorter.
Big kids: 80 more pounds. Bonus: 34,500 feet.
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.