Tuesday, February 10, 2009


For extra credit my students are considering million, billion and trillion.

This seems timely as our national debt is now over $9 trillion, and today congress is voting on a stimulus package in relationship to which I've heard the phrases "$83 billion" and "an additional $19 billion" on the news today.

We use these words somewhat interchangably:

million -- billion -- trillion

millionaire, billionaire, trillionaire (?)
-they've all got a lot more money than I do -

So what's the difference really?

Try this: Pretend you have ONE-MILLION DOLLARS and that you love your money so much that you have it all given to you in one-dollar bills so that you can count it one bill at a time. Let's say you count one bill per second and take no breaks - no eating, no sleeping, no potty breaks. HOW LONG will it take you to count your money? (And don't tell me it's a million seconds - duh - how long is a million seconds in terms we can wrap our mind around easily - hours? days? weeks? years?)

Now do this also for ONE-BILLION DOLLARS and for ONE-TRILLION DOLLARS. How close are your answers? How much difference is there really?

Come on - give it a try. You can use a calculator. :-)

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