Help me make 545,565 more than just a big number!
May 28, 2012 12:45 PM   Subscribe

Congratulating a bunch of fourth-graders on their awesome reading total tomorrow. How can I make them visualize the number "545,565 pages" in a fun way?

My library has had a reading competition going on all year, where teachers have totaled the number of pages their kids have gone through. At the "congrats, you rock!" party tomorrow, I want to amaze them with just how much 545,565 is - rounded up or down is fine! I'm looking for ways of comparing that number to something else ("One page for every two people in Stockholm" is the best I can manage, and that sounds totally boring and abstract.)

If anyone have any ideas to toss my way I'd be most grateful!
posted by harujion to Science & Nature (21 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Best answer: Well, there are about 525,600 minutes in a year. You could say that they read almost 20,000 more pages than there are minutes in a year.
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 12:55 PM on May 28, 2012 [5 favorites]

If you had one book 545,565 pages, and each page is 0.0038 inches thick (from a random webpage, you might want to measure this yourself), given each page is printed on both sides, the thickness of the book would be:

545565/2*0.0038 inches = 1040 = 86 feet.
posted by BrashTech at 12:59 PM on May 28, 2012 [7 favorites]

That's also almost 2.3 times the number of miles between Earth and the moon! (ie, enough for a round trip and then back again 1/3 of the distance)
posted by These Birds of a Feather at 1:00 PM on May 28, 2012

WolframAlpha says that's 25 million lines. That's about one line of text for every person in Texas.
posted by mdonley at 1:08 PM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: According to Wolfram Alpha, it would take one person three and a half years of nonstop speaking to read 545,565 pages out loud -- and 24 years to write it out by hand.
posted by Rhaomi at 1:08 PM on May 28, 2012 [10 favorites]

Yes, as BrashTech says a traditional way would be to say "This is equal to a stack of books X meters high!" or whatever.

I measured a stack of 4 CS Lewis books I had handy and came up with about 13,500 pages per meter, so for your number of pages that makes about 40 meters.

You could do better by measuring a stack of 10 or 15 books typically read by your 4th graders, totaling the pages & height & then doing a bit of math. (In fact, this would be a great project for 4th graders!). Figured this way your stack might come out a fair bit higher than 40 meters because the typically 4th grader probably reads things with thicker paper, more of a binding, and so on than my CS Lewis paperbacks . . .
posted by flug at 1:08 PM on May 28, 2012

25 million lines

You could also figure out the number of words and letters, which would be correspondingly larger and more impressive sounding.
posted by flug at 1:10 PM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: If you lined up the papers to make a continuous path, it would stretch for 152 km. If you are in Stockholm, that's approximately how long a bridge to Jomala would need to be. I'm sure you could do better than me in picking a destination.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, I used 8.5"x11" as a page size, which is probably too big. But you get the idea.
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:15 PM on May 28, 2012

Maybe find some way to get them to Legoland or something....
posted by Chaussette and the Pussy Cats at 1:16 PM on May 28, 2012

Best answer: Well, there are about 525,600 minutes in a year.

Modified for Grade 4 students:

If you ate 1 candy every minute of every day -- morning, noon, and night -- for an entire year, you'd STILL have eaten less than 545,565 candies!
posted by mazola at 1:47 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

Aren't there 560k words in War and Peace? They read one page for ever word in that famously long book. I like BrashTech's idea. It'd be real neat if you lined up 86 feet of books along one wall, or all around a room or something, so they could walk along it and be impressed.
posted by Garm at 2:14 PM on May 28, 2012

Make it about the MILLION. That's over half a MILLION pages! If every page got it's own seat it would fill Globen forty times over (or forty pages on every seat in globen).
Do something with your age or the principles or similar "if Bob wanted to have read as many pages he would have had to read x pages a day EVERY DAY since he was BORN!!" and so on. Its a page a day for 1500 YEARS!!! A page a day since umm the Romans or something.
posted by Iteki at 2:30 PM on May 28, 2012

disclaimer: shameless self-link

545,565 8.5 x 11 in pages is an area of about six football fields or three city blocks (more area alternatives here). Furthermore, borrowing from BrashTech, 86 feet of pages stacked would be twice the height of a Brachiosaurus (more height alternatives here).
posted by FreelanceBureaucrat at 3:13 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Going with BrashTech's 86 foot stack--head out to the playground and measure out an 86 foot line for everyone to stand in, or maybe there is a nearby 8 story building they would know or you could walk to and gawk at?
posted by rumposinc at 3:35 PM on May 28, 2012

I'm a math teacher, and I've had this idea in my back pocket for awhile now for a hallway bulletin board. What I was thinking of doing was putting little, eensy weensy dots on pieces of paper, and using an array of papers to show the enormous number.

If you can get a paint program and get a 15 x 15 array of tiny dots (the size of a period) into one square inch, and then copy and paste those square inches to fill a page, and estimate that you could get roughly 80 of these square inches onto a piece of 8.5 x 11" paper taking margins into account, Google calculator tells us that 550,000 / (225 x 80) ~ 30.5 sheets of paper.

You could lay them out, or put them up on a bulletin board, and they'd REALLY get to see the entire number.
posted by alphanerd at 4:04 PM on May 28, 2012 [2 favorites]

PS: John Allen Paulos remarked in one of his books that the number of dimensions matters in turning numbers into things that are concrete. So if you lined people up, they'd go around the world 80 times, two dimensions would fit everyone into New Haven County, CT shoulder to shoulder, using a 10' x 10' x 10' apartment for everyone on earth would fill the Grand Canyon. See how the number of people in the world seems less and less impressive the more dimensions you use to pack them in?
posted by alphanerd at 4:11 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Oh, snap!

Maybe you could use a rounder number, like 200 dots per square inch, delineate the inches from one another to make them easier to work with, and have the students decorate the necessary number of square inches to represent their individual totals (which I'm guessing you have since you have the number of pages pretty exact). Then, you could do something with the papers, like make a bulletin board.

If you can wait until some time tomorrow morning for the papers, memail me, because this seems like a five minute job using my favorite program in the world, Appleworks, and I'd be more than happy to email you a PDF you could use to get this going.
posted by alphanerd at 5:07 PM on May 28, 2012

Stack books from the library until you have that many pages stacked, it's like 1,000 novels, it should be doable (even if you have to make a few stacks).
posted by tylerkaraszewski at 6:38 PM on May 28, 2012 [1 favorite]

Response by poster: Brilliant answers here! I'm a librarian, and only had the 4th graders for a short period this morning, but using a combination of the cool facts shared in this thread I had them totally riveted. I had them guess things like how many minutes in a year, how long it would take to read their page numbers out loud and such, and there were a lot of "Wow!" when the facts were revealed.

There were such fun and creative suggestions here - I'll definitely keep them in mind for the next time I do something like this. You've all helped a bunch of kids feel accomplished and clever for reading lots, and that totally made my day - thank you!
posted by harujion at 1:39 AM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

^ i love that story, top to bottom
posted by radiosilents at 7:37 PM on May 29, 2012 [1 favorite]

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