Have you ever eaten a lollipop? Did you lick it slowly so it would last a long time, or just bite the whole thing off? Someone finally did the math to see how many licks you can enjoy until you finish it. Scientists have estimated (guessed) that it’s about 1,000 licks. They used math to figure out how fast water can “dissolve,” or turn into liquid, something hard like sugar. The funny thing is, this matches pretty well with what people say just from counting their licks. But go ahead and test it out yourself!
Wee ones: If you lick the left side of your lollipop, then the right side, then the left, then the right…what side do you lick next?
Little kids: If you’re down to your last 8 licks of the lollipop, what numbers do you say to count down from 8? Bonus: If an anteater could finish a lollipop in 100 licks, is that more or fewer than your 1,000?
Big kids: If you lick your lollipop once per second, how long in minutes and seconds does it take to lick it 100 times? Bonus: If you’re halfway through your 1,000-lick lollipop, how many licks have you taken?
The sky’s the limit: If you’re counting your 1,000 licks, which number lick is the 10th to last lick?
Wee ones: The left.
Little kids: 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Bonus: It’s a lot fewer, thanks to that super-long tongue.
Big kids: 1 minute 40 seconds, since a minute has 60 seconds. Bonus: 500 licks.
The sky’s the limit: The 991st lick. Remember, 999 is the 2nd to last (1,000 – 1), 998 is 3rd to last (1,000 – 2)…so you subtract just 9 to make sure you include 1,000 as the last.
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.