# How Much Is a Billion or a Trillion?

August 13th, 2012 by ClickSchooling

Hi! It’s Monday, August 13, 2012 and time for Math at ClickSchooling!

Recommended Website:

The MegaPenny Project

Age Range: 6 and up (with parental supervision)

We hear BIG numbers mentioned all of the time – government budgets require trillions of dollars, bailouts require billions of dollars, and NASA’s rover traveled millions of miles to Mars. Talking about these gigantic numbers is one thing – visualizing them can be very difficult. One financial commentator, K.C. Cole explained:

We automatically ‘read’ a billion as about a third of a trillion. After all, it’s only three zeros off. But of course, a trillion is a thousand times a billion, and a thousand is a lot. Decrease your salary by a factor of a thousand, and it could go from 200,000 dollars to 200. Increase class size by the same amount, and your 15 students would turn into 15,000… Our brains haven’t evolved to directly deal with such staggering numbers, but we can use stories and metaphors to retrain ourselves.”

Enter The MegaPenny Project that takes one small U.S. penny and shows you what a billion (or a trillion or more) pennies would look like. You’ll even find out how many pennies it would take to fill the Empire State Building. Not only will you SEE what that many pennies looks like, you’ll discover things such as the value of the pennies, size of the pile, weight, and the area they would cover (if laid flat). Computer images make visualization of these gigantic numbers and facts a snap.

When you get to the site you will see a brief introduction and a menu. For the best effect, ignore the menu and follow the progressive “tour” from start to finish by clicking on the words “Enter The Mega Penny Project.” You and your kids will be amazed to discover what BIG numbers really look like. You will also find out some fascinating information along the way, such as the answer to this question:

Would you rather be paid one million dollars today – or – would you rather be paid one penny today (1¢), twice that tomorrow (2¢), twice that the next (4¢), etc. for 30 days?

Go to today’s site to find the answer. When you finish exploring the MegaPenny Project – don’t miss the MegaMoo project. (Same idea, only using Holstein cows!)

Bonus!  Reading Recommendation: To enhance learning about large numbers, your child may enjoy reading, One Grain of Rice: A Mathematical Folktale by Demi. You can get it at your local library for free, or purchase the book by clicking on my Amazon.com affiliate link.  :)