Rocketing Rocks

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.

Rocketing Rocks

January 14, 2016

Sure, Earth seems big: it’s 8,000 miles across, after all. But it’s teeny tiny compared to the stretches of outer space between us, the Sun, the other planets, and the stars. They all fly around millions or billions of miles apart.  So it’s amazing when two rocks actually crash into each other. As Rufus R. and his mom shared with us, in November a “meteor” – a small, loose rock in space – smashed right into Earth, hitting Australia.  The meteor weighed less than 4 pounds, but fell from the sky so fast that it sank 16 inches deep into the dirt. In fact, meteors turn so hot as they fly through our air that they often glow, so they’re also called “shooting stars.” This meteor was 4 1/2 billion years old, just like Earth, and came from between Mars and Jupiter. Even using telescope pictures, it still took 2 people and one drone (flying robot) 3 days to find the rock. But that’s better than having it land on someone’s house!

Wee ones: Which weighs more, a 4-pound rock or you? Find out your weight in pounds!

Little kids: They started the search on a Tuesday and found the meteor 3 days later. On what day of the week did they find it?  Bonus: The team first spent 30 days calculating where the rock landed, then searched for 3 days. How long did that all take in total?

Big kids: Who’s farther from the Sun, Jupiter at 490 million miles or Uranus at 2 billion miles?   Bonus: Skydivers fall from planes at a top speed of 120 miles per hour. If this rock flew at Earth 10 times as fast, how fast did it fly?

The sky’s the limit – literally: If Mars were always 150 million miles from the Sun, we were always 90 million miles, and Jupiter were always 490 million miles as we all circle the Sun, how close to us could the meteor have started its journey if it came from halfway between Mars and Jupiter?




Wee ones: You weigh more, since you probably weighed more than 4 pounds even when born!

Little kids: On a Friday.  Bonus: 33 days.

Big kids: Uranus is farther, since a billion is 1 thousand millions.  Bonus: 1,200 miles per hour.

The sky’s the limit: From 230 million miles away. The closest all of us planets could be is if we formed a straight line on one side of the Sun. Mars would be 60 million miles from us, and Jupiter would be 400 million miles from us. So Mars and Jupiter would be 340 million miles apart. The halfway point would be 170 million miles from Mars, which would then be 170 + 60 from us.

And thank you Rufus and mom for sending us this awesome math topic!

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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 while still in diapers, 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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