This Week From Bedtime Math: Chargogga-what?

It doesn&t take a big town to have a big name. Discover the longest-named place in America in today&s math challenge.
By Laura Overdeck
Jun 25, 2013



Jun 25, 2013

What is Bedtime Math? A message from Laura: Bedtime Math is a pretty simple idea: We all know we should read to our kids at night, but what about math? My husband and I have done fun, mischief-loaded math problems with our kids at night for years, and when at age 2 our third child started hollering for his own math problem, we realized we were onto something:  In a world where so many people say "Ewww, math!" we had created a household culture where kids don't just tolerate math, they actually seek it out. Now we email parents a fun, lively math problem every day to do with their kids – and every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!  

If you've wondered what place in America has the longest name, there's a clear winner. Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamogg is the 44-letter name of a lake in Massachusetts. Named by the Nipmuck Indians, it means something like "You fish on your side, I'll fish on my side, and no one fishes in the middle." Most people agree that that's what it means, but no one seems to agree on how to spell it. Even on the town's website, the spelling of the name doesn't match the lake's road sign pictured on that same page – and, apparently, they're both wrong. Maybe that's why people just call it Lake Webster, but that isn't as exciting when the real name is the longest lake name in the world – though not the overall longest- name place.

Have some fun with town names, and challenge your children these math problems:

Wee ones: How many letters are in your town's name? Count them up with a grown-up!

Little kids: Chargoggagoggmanchauggagoggchaubunagungamogg has 14 syllables (unbroken pieces of sound), which makes it take a long time to say. How many more syllables does it have than your first name?  Bonus: Even crazier is that the name has 15 letter g's in it. If you had to mix that many g's into your first name, how many letters would your name have – and how would you say it?

Big kids: A town in North Wales called Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch is probably the longest-name place in the world, with 58 letters. That's Welsh for "St. Mary's Church in the hollow of the white hazel near the rapid whirlpool of Llantysilio of the red cave." How many more letters does Llanfairpwllgwyngyllgogerychwyrndrobwllllantysiliogogogoch have than that crazy lake name?  Bonus: The town name has 11 l's. If you swap the town's 11 l's with the lake's 15 g's, how much longer is the new town name than the lake name?

Wee ones: Different for everyone…spell out your town name and count the letters.

Little kids: Again, different for everyone…count the syllables in your first name (most likely between 1 and 5), and subtract that from 14.  Bonus: Count the letters in your first name, then add 15. But you decide how to say it!

Big kids: 14 letters. Bonus: 22 letters longer. The gap between the two used to be just 14, but now you've increased it by 8 letters (4 more on one, 4 less on the other). To test it: The town now has 62 letters and the lake now has 40, for a difference of 22.

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