The Longest Lost and Found

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.

The Longest Lost and Found

November 3, 2015

Have you ever found something that you lost so long ago you forgot all about it? For how long did you look for it — days, weeks, even months? Imagine Derek Gamble, a British man who lost his wallet on a train 30 years ago. Just this summer, train driver Michael Massey found it wedged inside the seats, and mailed it to him! It still held old money, coins, and Derek’s long-ago address. But that doesn’t beat Ed Grigor, whose watch was stolen from him, then found and sent to him 53 years later. The wildest lost and found, though, might be for height, not length of time. Stanford University students floated a weather balloon carrying a GoPro camera, so they could see the Grand Canyon from miles above. When the camera fell back to Earth, they couldn’t find it. But just last month an Arizona hiker found the camera, 2 whole years after they lost it. The camera still works, giving us all amazing pictures of Earth from space. Well worth the wait!

Wee ones: If that long-lost wallet had 6 really old coins, what numbers would you say to count them?

Little kids: If your favorite Lego piece gets vacuumed up in March and pops out 3 months later, in what month do you get it back?  Bonus: If the space camera was lost 2 years ago, in what year did the students launch it? (We’re now in 2015).

Big kids: If you’ve been searching for your favorite sneakers since October 17 and you find them tonight, how many days after losing them did you find them? (Reminder: October has 31 days, and today is November 3.)  Bonus: If the camera flew 5 miles up and then fell 5 miles down, how many feet did it travel? (Hint if needed: A mile has 5,280 feet.)

The sky’s the limit: If you lost your sneakers 10 months ago and found them 4 months later, and you lost your favorite shirt 2 years ago and found it halfway between losing and finding your sneakers, how long were you missing the shirt?




Wee ones: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Little kids: In June.  Bonus: In 2013.

Big kids: 17 days, since Oct. 31 takes you to 14 days.  Bonus: 52,800 feet, since it traveled 10 miles in total.

The sky’s the limit: 16 months. You lost your sneakers 10 months ago and found them 6 months ago (4 months later), making the halfway point 8 months. Your shirt went missing 24 months ago, so from that time to 8 months ago is 16 months.

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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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