Thursday, April 20, 2006

Cool Facts

We found a great way of getting a sense of relative sizes of BIG things today. One of my students told me that she was reading her math text the other night. First I thought she was joking, like, "I was sooooo bored, I actually read my math book". But she was serious (woot woot). She mentioned a cool thing she learned.

In our text they compare a million (10^6), a billion (10^9), and a trillion (10^12) with the following questions. Now, I couldn't figure out a fast way of putting a drop down menu with the answers here, so I'll put the answers in the comment section.

1. How much time is encompassed in a million seconds? (in hours or days or years) ..... don't use a calculator, just go by gut feeling.

2. How much time is encompassed in a billion seconds? (again, no calculator ....)

3. How much time is encompassed in a trillion seconds? (drop that calculator!)

How cool is THAT .... and how mind bending.


  1. 1. 11.6 days

    2. 31.7 years

    3. 31,709 years

  2. And yet the government is in debt in the trillions.

    My gut aimed for weeks at first. Days is better. I remind my MathCounts kids to ponder is an aswer of 10 gallons for a swimming pool sounds accurate. Or a millions gallons. I really don't know the number of gallons in a typical public pool.

  3. Anonymous5:31 AM

    Oh, I like that question. I don't have a good sense of how many gallons in a swimming pool. Or .... if anything is given in metric, what's a reasonable size? Like for cereal boxes, if you're given some choices of cm^3, what would be a reasonable answer?

    Ms. Cookie