Have you ever watched an airplane in the sky, and wondered how many people are in there, and where they’re going? Now multiply that by all the planes in the air at any time. This webpage made a 2-minute video showing all the planes that flew over the Atlantic Ocean in 1 day: over 2,500 flights in 24 hours! Air traffic controllers tell the pilots where to fly so they don’t run into each other. So the sky is divided into “tracks” for planes to follow, almost like lanes on a highway. When you run the numbers, you’ll see that there are way more people on that highway than you might think.
Wee ones: If you’re the 3rd person to get on a plane, how many people got on before you? Hold up your fingers to show 3 people getting on a plane!
Little kids: Planes are spaced to land every 10 minutes. What numbers would you say to count down those 10 minutes? Bonus: If 400 flights fly during each busy hour in the morning, how many planes fly in a 2-hour stretch?
Big kids: If 7,000 people fly in the morning and twice as many fly during the afternoon, how many fly that stretch in total? Bonus: If there were exactly 2,500 flights and they each filled up with 100 passengers, how many people flew over the ocean that whole day?
Wee ones: 2 people before you.
Little kids: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Bonus: 800 flights.
Big kids: 21,000 people. Bonus: 250,000 people – a quarter of a million!
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.