This Week From Bedtime Math: Fast Flying Fingers

How can you win a race while standing still? Just twiddle your thumbs over some keys at lightning speed! Add up some taps in today&s math challenge.
By Laura Overdeck
Apr 22, 2014



Apr 22, 2014

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, every week, we'll be posting a new problem right here on Scholastic Parents!
When you "type" on a computer or phone, you press little square keys with letters on them, and each letter you touch shows up on the screen. In the old days of typewriters, each key swung its own metal stick against the paper to press ink in the shape of that letter, but now it's all electronic. And with keys that don't have to be hit hard, people can type really fast. Typing world records are measured in words per minute (wpm), where a "word" is just the next chunk of 5 letters. The record for typing on a smartphone was set in 2011 by Grace Pak, who typed 264 words in under a minute on those tiny keys. And Manoj Penmetsa typed all 26 letters of the alphabet in order in just over 2 seconds, which is crazy fast. As you can see from typing competition videos like this one, people's fingers move at blazing speed (jump to the 2-minute mark to watch). If they can also tie their shoes that fast, they're way ahead of the rest of us.

Now challenge your kids to see if they can come up with the answers to these math challenges:

Wee ones: How many letters do you have to type for your first name?

Little kids: How many full typing "words" does "happy birthday" have? Bonus: When you type fast, it's hard to spell all the words right. If you type 14 words but have mistakes in 3 of them, how many did you type right?

Big kids: If you type 6 "words," where a word has 5 letters, how many letters did you type?  Bonus: If you can type 100 wpm, and you have only 30 seconds to type a 55-word text, will you finish in time? (Reminder: A minute has 60 seconds.)

Wee ones: Different for everyone…count them with a grown-up!
Little kids: 2 full words.  Bonus: 11 correct words
Big kids: 30 letters.  Bonus: No – 30 seconds is half a minute, in which you'll type only 50 words.

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