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 Winnersof theJune - August 2005Math CatsWriting Contest:

 The contest was introduced like this: __________ Do you think you've ever seen a thousand things all in one place? How about a million? How about a billion? Have you ever been in a really huge crowd of people? (How many people do you think were in the crowd?) How many blades of grass are there on a nearby lawn or field? How many grains of sand are there on the beach? Don't start counting!!! But maybe you can think of a way to estimate how many people, or blades of grass, or grains of sand you were looking at. Or can you help us begin to understand a really big number? Can you help us understand how far it is from the Earth to the sun? Can you help us understand how many people live on this planet? Can you help us understand a million, billion, or trillion dollars? To help us understand a really big number, maybe you can compare it to something else that is a bit easier for us to understand. To get some good ideas, you might like to visit this page:      How much is one million? We like writing that is lively, creative, detailed, and personal. Remember - this is a math writing contest: we are interested in how you express yourself. __________ First Place - "How Big Is a Really Big Number?"   by Anatole Wiering Second Place - "Really Big Numbers: What is a Million?"  by Niki Loo Third Place    - "Billions of Mice"   by Travis King__________ Prizes We're helping a special friend of Math Cats, too!

 * First Place: "How Big Is a Really Big Number?"by Anatole Wiering age 8, grade 4, Cloverleaf Elementary School, Chicago, Illinois, U.S. I like really big numbers. Big numbers are interesting for me. I like things in big numbers. For example, I like collecting a lot of things. I collect bottle caps, CTA bus cards, flower labels, and pennies. I like counting pennies and bottle caps. What is a really big number? A really big number is many things. For example, a beach is a really big number of sand grains. What is the difference between a really big number and a big number? A big number you can count to, but a really big number is much harder to count to. For example, 30 is a big number, and 75,000 is a really big number. I can't count all the sand grains at the beach. I can't even count all the sand grains in my hand. Another example of a really big number is if you go to page 119 in the book Math for Smarty Pants (Little, Brown and company, 1982).You will see a big pile of circles on the page. Those are all bottle caps -- over 100,000 of them! I can't count them. If I started to count them, I would be stuck in counting them. But I would like to collect them. I would like to be able to count to a really big number. A Googol is a really big number. It is a 1 with 100 zeros after it. I wonder if anyone counted to a Googol. The highest number I counted to was 2,334. The highest number my cousin Dale counted to was 500,234. It took him hours and hours and hours. I timed how long I counted: I counted to 100 in 37 seconds, which means I would count to 1,000 in about 6 :10 minutes. I counted to 222 in 1:27:03 minutes. I counted to 444 in 3:27:93 minutes. I counted to 1,000 in 6:33:21, which means I could count to 2,000 in 13:06:42. I have a really big number of pennies. Probably over 15 dollars worth! I can't count them. What I did with my pennies is put 100 pennies into a measuring cup. 100 pennies fill 1/3 cup. 300 pennies fill 1 cup. 3,000 pennies fill 5 pints. 30,000 pennies fill 6 gallons and 1 quart. Now how did I find out that 300 pennies are 1 cup? I first multiplied 1/3 cup times 3; then I multiplied 100 times 3. How did I find out that 3,000 pennies are 5 pints? I multiplied 300 by 10 because that equals 3,000, and I multiplied 1 by 10, then I converted 10 cups into 5 pints. Now what helps me with knowing how many pennies fill how many pints? I can't count 30,000 pennies, but I can imagine 6 gallons and 1 quart pennies. Instead of counting really big numbers, measure them! Measuring is faster than counting. Really big numbers are fun. A big number is easy to count to, but a really big number is much harder to count to. I learned that really big numbers are easier to measure than to count to. Maybe I will collect a really big number of bottle caps. Then I won't be able to count them, so I will measure them.