Tonight is New Year’s Eve, when people everywhere ring in the new year. But the new year doesn’t begin at the same time for everyone! That’s because clocks around the Earth don’t all say the same time at the same time. When the sun sets for you at, say, 7 pm, it’s still high in the sky for people west of you, so their clocks say 3 or 4 pm. People east of you are in the dark of night, and their clocks say 2 in the morning. So on New Year’s Eve, each country reaches midnight at different times. If you watch parties around the world on TV, each hour someone else gets to start: Australia and parts of Asia go first, then countries in Europe and Africa, then the Americas, and finally some islands in the Pacific Ocean. If you could fly fast enough on a plane, you could keep flying west to celebrate the new year over and over!
Wee ones: The year 2020 has the digits 2, 0, 2, 0. Can you remember those and say them back in order?
Little kids: People love to count down the last 10 seconds before exact midnight. Can you count backwards from 10 to 1? Bonus: What year will we ring in 1 year from now?
Big kids: If right now people in London, England have just 1/2 hour left before midnight, and you’re in New York which is 5 hours behind London, what time is it in New York? Bonus: If it’s 11:44 pm for you, how many minutes do you have left to grab your party hat and noisemaker for midnight?
Wee ones: 2, 0, 2, 0 – see how long you can remember that!
Little kids: 10, 9, 8, 7, 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1. Bonus: 2019.
Big kids: 6:30 pm, since it’s 11:30 pm for them. Bonus: 16 minutes.
And happy New Year everyone!
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.