The World’s Biggest School

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.

The World’s Biggest School

February 16, 2016

Ever since the caveman days, grown-ups have been trying to teach stuff to kids. At first, cavepeople dragged their kids along to pick berries or hunt elephants. As life got more complicated over thousands of years, though, the idea of school came along: shove a whole bunch of people’s kids in one room with one teacher. So our friend and fan Reid D. asked a great question: how many kids are in the world’s biggest school today? Unbelievably, it’s in the tens of thousands! As of 2010, the City Montessori School in Lucknow, India had 39,437 students, and by 2015 it had risen to more than 50,000. Those kids don’t all stuff into one giant building, though: they’re spread out over 20 chunks of land, or “campuses.” Let’s just hope those kids don’t all start throwing paper airplanes: a school of only 407 kids in Hinode, Japan made a record-breaking 4,880 paper airplanes in just 5 minutes! So we just have to ask, how many can 50,000 kids make?…

Wee ones: If you fold 6 paper airplanes, then fold 1 more, how many do you have now?

Little kids: Which has fewer students, a school of 400 kids, or a school of 40,000 kids?  Bonus: City Montessori started with 5 students back in 1959. If it now has 39,437, how many more students is that? See if you can remember the whole number!

Big kids: If there are 22 kids in your class, but 1/2 make 2 airplanes each while the rest make just 1 apiece, how many planes do you all make?  Bonus: If the 407 kids had each made 10 airplanes, would that have been enough for their record of 4,880?

The sky’s the limit — for real: If 400 kids can make about 5,000 paper airplanes, how many planes could those 50,000 Montessori kids make at the same rate?




Wee ones: 7 paper airplanes.

Little kids: The school of 400 kids.  Bonus: 39,432 more students.

Big kids: 33 airplanes.  Bonus: Not quite: they’d have made 4,070.

The sky’s the limit: 625,000 paper planes. Basically, you need to figure out how many sets of 400 go into 50,000. A trick for dividing by 400: divide by 4, then divide by 100. You can cut in half, then cut in half again, to get to 12,500…then chop off 2 zeros, giving us 125. Then each of those sets makes 5,000 airplanes, so we get 125 x 5 x 1000, or 625,000 paper airplanes. Watch out!

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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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