When Numbers Are Cute As a Button

Here's your nightly math! Just 5 quick minutes of number fun for kids and parents at home. Read a cool fun fact, followed by math riddles at different levels so everyone can jump in. Your kids will love you for it.

When Numbers Are Cute As a Button

December 9, 2015

Have you ever used a calculator? It’s an almost magical toy: you press buttons that have numbers on them, and the calculator adds them for you, or multiplies them, or whatever else you want to do, then shows the answer. So Bedtime Math fan Abby W. wanted to know, how many buttons do 100 calculators have on them? (She also sent this fun drawing!) Well, that depends on the number of buttons. The simplest calculator has 10 buttons for the “digits” — 0, 1, 2, 3 all the way up to 9 — and the buttons to add, subtract, multiply, divide, an equal sign, and a “clear” button to start over. So that’s at least 16 buttons. But there are LOTS of other cool math buttons on calculators: buttons that do the math on angles, or on amounts of money, or that tell you how many times to multiply a number by itself…so 2 to the 3rd “power” means 2 x 2 x 2, or 8. As you see, even with just a few buttons, you can make the numbers grow really fast.

Wee ones: If you’ve pressed buttons 1, 2, 3 and so on up to 7, what button do you press next?

Little kids: If you press 1, then 2, then 1 again, then 3, then 1, then 4…what’s the 7th button you press?  Bonus: If you type 707 so it spells “LOL” upside-down, but then you add 1, what number do you have now?

Big kids: If 2 to the 3rd power means 2 x 2 x 2, what does 3 to the 3rd power equal?  Bonus: If Abby had 100 of those 16-button calculators, how many buttons would they have all together?




Wee ones: The 8.

Little kids: The 1, since all your odd moves are 1s.  Bonus: 708.

Big kids: It equals 3 x 3 x 3, or 27.  Bonus: 1,600 buttons.

And thank you Abby for this great question and awesome picture! And to all our fans out there, we love these fun questions, so feel free to send your own – and pictures to go with them!

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About the Author

Laura Overdeck

Laura Overdeck

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 while still in diapers, 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.

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