This Week from Bedtime Math: To Infinity and Beyond!

"To Infinity and Beyond!" It sounds pretty cool, but what does it really mean? Turns out it&s simpler than you&d think. Try the math and see.
By Laura Overdeck
May 28, 2013



May 28, 2013

In the movie Toy Story, battery-run astronaut Buzz Lightyear thinks he can actually fly – and when he does try to fly, he yells, "To infinity and beyond!"  So what is infinity, exactly? In math, infinity means that numbers just keep on going: no matter how big a number you can think of, you can always add one and just make a bigger number. We're sorry, Buzz, but there's no way to go beyond infinity. But as we look at some other milestone numbers, we'll see that even non-infinite numbers can be pretty big and pretty cool.

Wee ones: What is the biggest number you can count to on your fingers and toes altogether?

Little kids: What is the largest two-digit number? Bonus: What is the largest three-digit number?

Big kids: While you may know "Google" as a search engine, there is actually a very large number called a "googol" that is a 1 followed by 100 zeroes! How many more zeroes does this number have than in a thousand? Bonus: How many more zeroes does this number have than in a million?


Wee ones: Count your fingers and toes!

Little kids: 99. Bonus: 999.

Big kids: 97 zeroes. Bonus: 94 zeroes.

A message from Laura:  Bedtime Math is a 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.  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!  


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