City of Surprises

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.

City of Surprises

February 20, 2019

Our story about wacky Accident, Maryland has led to some great new questions about towns. Tanisha T. told us about another surprise town name — and that’s what it’s called! Surprise, Arizona was founded in 1938 by Flora Mae Stetler, who said she’d be “surprised” if that tiny spot in the desert ever became a real town. Well, today more than 115,000 people live there! Meanwhile, our friends at Mulroy Tech Hub in Denver asked, what makes a city a city? Well, it’s all about the math: a city is any town that has at least 2,500 people. Denver and Surprise count as cities, but how about where you live? Do the math to find out!

Wee ones: A town has lots of smaller places: people’s homes. How many people live in your home? Count them up — and remember to count yourself!

Little kids: When the first 5 people joined Flora Mae in Surprise, Arizona, how many people did it have then? Bonus: If a place needs at least 2,500 people to be a city, does a place with 3,000 people count as a city?

Big kids: How about a place with 800 people? Does that count as a city? (A city has at least 2,500 people.) Bonus: San Jose, California has about 1 million (1,000,000) people. How many smallest possible cities could you carve out of it at most? (Hint if needed: How many people do 4 cities of 2,500 each have?)











Wee ones: Different for everyone…count up the people living in your home!

Little kids: 6 people. Bonus: Yes! 3,000 is more than 2,500.

Big kids: No, 800 is less than 1,000, so it has to be less than 2,500. Bonus: 400 little cities! 4 cities would have 10,000 people, so 40 cities would have 100,000, and therefore 400 cities would have 1,000,000 people.

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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 before she could walk, 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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