The key to making kids interested in math is to apply it to what they already love. For a lot of kids (and some adults as well!), there are few things as cool as the gigantic reptiles that walked the Earth tens of millions ago: dinosaurs. While the science behind them is changing every year (velociraptors are now thought to have had feathers over their entire bodies), the appeal of dinosaurs remains constant, and if parents can link them to math, then the excitement may carry over, inspiring them to succeed in their Atherton-area schools.

A Spinosaurus, as drawn by one of our Palo Alto-Menlo Park Mathnasium 5th graders.

## Digging Up Dinosaur Word Problems

If your kids are anything like some of the students in our Mathnasium center, then they already know almost everything there is to know about dinosaurs. If you want to engage them with fun dinosaur math problems, then a little bit of independent research may be necessary. Anything with numbers is good to know: a dinosaur’s weight, length, or time period can all be put into problems. Additionally, using the standard dinosaurs like Tyrannosaurus Rex or Apatoasaurus won’t cut it anymore; try looking up some more exotic species such as the Pachycephalosaurus or the Microraptor, a 3-foot long, 4-winged bird-like dinosaur that attacked birds, fish from the air. If you can’t find information easily online, take a trip to the Atherton Library on Dinkelspiel Station Lane or the Menlo Park Library on Ravenswood Avenue with your kid, and let them teach you from the books.

## Some First Ideas

Although the best dinosaur word problems will be made at home with help from your kids, here are a few ideas to get you started, as suggested by one of our Mathnasium 5th graders from Atherton.

1) Many large carnivorous dinosaurs would eat, on average, up to 1.5% of their body weight each day. If a spinosaurus, one of the largest carnivores ever, weighted 7 tons, how many pounds of food did it have to eat each day?

Answer: 210 pounds (remember, 1 ton is 2000 pounds)

2) Many scientists think that Spinosaurus ate mostly fish. If a Spinosaurus needed to eat 210 pounds a day and he ate only large Atlantic Salmon, which weight about 30 pounds, how many of these fish would he need to eat each day?

Answer: 7 Atlantic Salmon

3) If the Giganotosaurus, one of the largest carnivorous dinosaurs ever discovered and one of the only ones suspected to prey on massive herbivores, and the Diplodocus, a huge herbivore that grew up to 120 feet in length including it’s whip-like tail, had lived at the same time, they would have had some incredible fights. However, the last Diplodocuses died about 151 million years ago near the end of the Jurassic, while the first Giganotosaurus lived about 99 million years ago. How many years existed between the times of the Diplodocus and the Giganotosaurus?

Answer: 52 million years.

For more information about Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park and other unique word problems, visit our website at http://www.mathnasium.com/paloalto-menlopark!