Check Your Position

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

Check Your Position

January 27, 2013

Until pretty recently, when you wanted to find your way somewhere, you had to pull out a paper map, face it the right way, figure out where you were on the map, and then figure out how to get to your destination.  Now we’ve taken all the fun out of it.  With the digital maps on our smartphone and computer screens, you just type in your start and end points, and it draws the path you should take.  Then geopositioning systems, or GPS, use satellites to find you and plop a blinking dot on the screen to show you exactly where you are.  Now when taking a trip by car, thanks to GPS the days of crumpled maps are over.  But as we’ll see here, when it comes to timing, sometimes the system doesn’t know everything.

Wee ones: If the GPS thinks it will take 5 minutes to drive across town, but thanks to hitting every red light it takes you 3 minutes longer, how long does the trip actually take?

Little kids: The GPS can tell you different ways to get to a place.  If it says using the highway will take 13 minutes but the roads with all the red lights will take 19 minutes, how much faster is the highway route?  Bonus: If your sports practice starts at 4:30 and right now it’s 4:15 pm, does the GPS think you can get there in time?

Big kids: On a long car trip, if you drive faster the GPS will recalculate your trip time.  If the GPS predicts 2 hours 34 minutes for your trip, but Dad speeds up and it changes to 2 hours 15 minutes, how much time can Dad save by driving like a maniac?  Bonus: If you then take only 1 hour 58 minutes, by how much was the GPS off from its second guess?

 

 

 

Answers:
Wee ones:  8 minutes.

Little kids: 6 minutes faster.  Bonus: Yes, but only if you take the highway route.

Big kids: 19 minutes.  Bonus: 17 minutes.

And a big thank-you to Alan K. for inspiring this BMP!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

Laura Bilodeau Overdeck is founder and president of Bedtime Math Foundation. Her goal is to make math as playful for kids as it was for her when she was a child. Her mom had Laura baking while still in diapers, and her dad had her using power tools at a very unsafe age, measuring lengths, widths and angles in the process. Armed with this early love of numbers, Laura went on to get a BA in astrophysics from Princeton University, and an MBA from the Wharton School of Business; she continues to star-gaze today. Laura’s other interests include her three lively children, chocolate, extreme vehicles, and Lego Mindstorms.

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