The Heartbeat That Can’t Be Beat

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

The Heartbeat That Can’t Be Beat

April 4, 2020

Hummingbirds are amazing birds. They can hang in the air over a flower long enough to suck nectar from it for dinner. To do this, they flap their wings 80 times per second. Hummingbirds work so hard that they eat 12 times their weight every day! Exercise like that makes your heart beat fast. So our fan Max F. asked, how fast does a hummingbird’s heart beat while flying? Turns out it beats more than 1,000 times a minute. Just to show how crazy that is, our hearts beat between 60 to 100 times a minute while resting. Even when we run or jump, the rate shouldn’t go higher than about 200. Here’s a fun fact: when YOU exercise, your top heart rate should be 220 minus your age. Do the math below to find out what that is!

Wee ones: Flap your arms 5 times fast like a hummingbird, and count the flaps as you do!

Little kids: If a hummingbird sucks nectar from the 3rd flower in a garden, then the 6th flower, what number flowers does it skip?  Bonus: If it decides to eat from 6 flowers, what numbers would it say to count down from 6?

Big kids: If your highest heart rate should be 220 minus your age, what does that come to for you?  How about for your mom or dad? Who has the highest top rate?  Bonus: What if you had to eat 12 times your weight today because you exercised so hard? How many 1-pound burgers would you have to eat? (Hint if needed: 12 times your weight is the same as 10 of your weight plus another 2 of your weight.)







Wee ones: Count your flaps: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5!

Little kids: Flowers 4 and 5.  Bonus: 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1.

Big kids: Different for everyone…subtract each person’s age from 220. Kids should have a higher top heart rate than grown-ups, because you’re subtracting a smaller number — fewer steps down from 220.  Bonus: Again, different for everyone…multiply your weight in pounds by 12!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

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.

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