Word Problem Wednesday: It’s A Wild World Out There

By Marketing | Added Dec 23, 2020


Animals in the wild are amazing! Whether it’s a sea turtle, a blue whale, a giant panda, or a lemur, they pique our interest and capture our hearts with their unique and untamed ways.

This week’s word problems focus on these fascinating creatures and give kids an opportunity to hone their math skills. Look below and choose the one that’s the right skill level for your child. Have them give it a try. And when they feel they’ve found the answer, check their solution against ours.


Lower Elementary:
Question: A sea turtle can swim 5 kilometres every 15 minutes. How far can the sea turtle swim in 4 hours?

Upper Elementary:
Question: An adult blue whale weighs 180 tonnes. An adult Hector’s dolphin weighs 50 kilograms. How many times the weight of the Hector’s dolphin is the blue whale?

Middle School:
Question: A giant panda eats 15 kilograms of bamboo per day. If 5 giant pandas live in a sanctuary that produces 70 kilograms of edible bamboo per day and the sanctuary currently has 35 kilograms of edible bamboo available to the pandas, then how long will it take for the pandas to run out of bamboo?

High School and Up:
Question: When a lemur leaps across the ground, it travels forward 9 metres and reaches a height of 3 metres in the air. Each leap takes 2 seconds from take-off to landing. Model the lemur’s leap with the equation of a parabola in which x = the elapsed time in seconds and y = the height off the ground in metres.

[Hint: A parabola in vertex form is written y = a(x – h)² + k when (hk) is the vertex.]


Excellent!  Are you ready to check your child’s answer? Look below to see if their solution matches ours.

Lower Elementary:
Answer:   80 kilometres
Solution:  Since 15 minutes is a quarter of an hour, there are 4 15-minute periods in each hour. That means the sea turtle swims 5, 10, 15, 20 kilometres in an hour. So, in 4 hours, the sea turtle swims 20, 40, 60, 80 kilometres.

Upper Elementary:
Answer:   3,600 times the weight
Solution:  A tonne is 1000 kilograms, so 180 tonnes is 180 × 1000 = 180 000 kilograms. If we divide 180 000 by 50, we get 3600. Therefore, the blue whale is 3600 times the weight of the Hector’s dolphin.

Middle School:
Answer:  7 days 
Solution:  Each day, the 5 pandas eat 15 × 5 = 75 kilograms of bamboo. So, the pandas decrease the amount of bamboo by 75 kilograms each day. The bamboo grows 70 kilograms each day. So, overall, the bamboo decreases by 5 kilograms per day. If the sanctuary currently has 35 kilograms of bamboo, that means that the pandas will run out of bamboo in 35 ÷ 5 = 7 days.

High School and Up:
 Answer:   y = –3(x – 1)² + 3
 Solution: The vertex of a parabola that opens down, like the model of the leap, is the highest point. So, the vertex of our model will be (1, 3). To write our equation, we first plug h and k into our general form: y = a(x – 1)² + 3. Next, we use a known point on the parabola and plug those values in for x and y. Let’s use the origin: 0 = a(0 – 1)² + 3. If we solve for a, we get a = –3. So, our equation that models the leap is y = –3(x – 1)² + 10.
Note: Answers may vary with different domains and forms of the equation.