Math in Our World: Capture the Firefly

Ricor’s family loves playing Capture the Firefly. They play outside in the evening. One person is the firefly. The firefly runs away. After 30 seconds, they blink a flashlight where they “land.” The rest of the players try to capture the firefly.

It’s not as easy as it sounds. The firefly keeps moving. They flash their light about every 30 seconds. They can move pretty far in 30 seconds!

The person who captures the firefly wins. If no one finds the firefly in 5 minutes, the firefly wins.

When Ricor is the firefly, he rarely gets captured. Ricor’s younger sister, Sofia, is often captured before she blinks her flashlight 4 times. Dad usually gets caught in about 3 minutes. Mom gets tricky by hiding in trees. She usually wins, but sometimes they capture her within 7 blinks of her flashlight.

  1. What do you notice? What do you wonder?
  2. Use pictures, models, or numbers to describe this situation.
  3. What mathematical questions can you ask about this situation? Answer all the questions you can!

60 seconds = 1 minute
30 seconds = 1/2 minute

How many times does the firefly flash their light in 1 minute? Make a model to show how many times a winning firefly would flash their light.

  • Show your work to someone else, and explain your thinking. Did they understand?
  • Ask whether they have any other questions you can answer!

Make up your own flashlight game. How often will the flashlight blink? How can you tell when to blink the flashlight?