Wow — on this very day 52 years ago, people walked on the moon for the first time. Before that day, no human had never stood anywhere in the universe except on our own planet Earth. Since our moon is about 240,000 miles away, it took the astronauts 4 days to fly there in the Apollo 11. The rocket’s computer system was simpler than today’s phones or even some of your toys! Once the astronauts stepped out of the lunar lander, they walked around for 2 1/2 hours. They collected moon rocks and planted an American flag. They also did giant 2-footed kangaroo jumps, thanks to the Moon’s weak gravity. Check out more moon math below!
Wee ones: Look out the window. Do you see the Moon in the sky? If yes, what shape is it?
Little kids: If it took 4 days to fly one way to the moon and the same time back, how many days did the astronauts fly in total? Bonus: Was the person reading this Bedtime Math problem to you already born when the astronauts landed 52 years ago? Find out his/her age!
Big kids: In what year did this famous journey happen, if it was 52 years ago today? Bonus: If the Apollo flew exactly 240,000 miles in those 4 days, how many miles per day did it fly?
The sky’s the limit — for real: If the rocket that brought the Apollo had flown twice as far the 1st day as the 2nd day, which was twice as far as the distance flown on the 3rd day, which was twice as far as the 4th day, how much of the 240,000 miles did it fly on the 1st day?
Wee ones: Look for our shiny Moon…If you don’t see it, you can check on other nights until it’s up on a clear night! You’ll also see that the lit part changes shape.
Little kids: 8 days of flying. Bonus: Different for everyone…see if that person has lived more or fewer than 52 years!
Big kids: In 1969. Bonus: 60,000 miles each day.
The sky’s the limit: 128,000 miles. With those ratios of distances, on the 1st 3 days Apollo flew 8 times the final day distance, then 4 times that distance, then 2 times that distance, respectively. So the whole trip distance was 15 times the final day’s trip. That gives us 16,000 miles on the final day. Then you just multiply by 2, 4 and 8 to get 32,000 for the 3rd day, 64,000 the 2nd day and 128,000 the 1st day. To double-check, those four numbers do add up to 240,000!
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.