How Far Can You Reach?

by Laura Overdeck

Have you ever held hands in a long line? How far did you all stretch? Our fan Lily J. asked, if everyone in the U.S. held hands, how long would that line be? We can use a very cool body math fact to figure this out: your arms stretch across about the same distance as your height! Measure your height and armspan to see for yourself! Let’s say for a mix of kids and adults, the average person can span 4 feet. So our 325 million Americans can stretch 1300 million feet, or 1.3 billion. Divide that by 5,280 feet per mile, and we could stretch 246,000 miles – just a little more than the distance from Earth to our Moon!

Wee ones: Check out your armspan! Lie on the floor and have a grown-up or friend place a book or shoe at your feet and the top of your head. Then turn sideways to stretch your arms across that distance. How closely does it match?

Little kids: If you’re 4 feet tall and your big cousin is 6 feet tall, how many feet taller is your cousin? Bonus: If you held hands side by side and stretched out, about how far across could the two of you reach together?

Big kids: If you and your friends are all 5 feet tall (and across), and you want to stretch a line across a 22-foot-wide ski slope, at least how many of you need to make the line? Bonus: In 1986, 6 1/2 million Americans made a line across the country in “Hands Across America.” At 4 feet each, how far could they have stretched in a perfect line?











Wee ones: Your height and armspan will match pretty closely!

Little kids: 2 feet taller. Bonus: 10 feet.

Big kids: 5 people. 4 people would stretch only 5 x 4 = 20 feet, so you need 1 more friend. Bonus: 26 million feet, which is just shy of 5,000 miles!

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