Today is my 30th birthday! Hurray!
My present to you is a fun quick calculation you can do at any age. Math on your birthday? Yes, please :)
This isn't a very hands on type activity, grab a calculator and just have fun. When doing this with kids I would present the questions in bold only, obviously depending on their level. For more advanced mathematicians merely ask the original question. We are trying to develop mathematical thinking and problem solving skills. I've provided more info and my example in plain text if you need more guidance. You, or your child, might come at it from a completely different angle hurray! I love that all our brains work in different ways that's what makes us all so interesting :D
How many breaths in a life time?
Step 1: Time how many complete breaths you take in 10 seconds. I did 4.
Step 2: Calculate how many breaths in a minute. Multiply by 6 to get 60 seconds, which is 1 minute. 4 x 6 = 24
Step 3: Calculate how many breaths in an hour. Multiply by 60 as 60 minutes in 1 hour. 24 x 60 = 1440
Step 4: Calculate how many breaths in a day. Multiply by 24 as 24 hours in a day. 1440 x 24 = 34560
Step 5: Calculate how many breaths in a year. Multiply by 365 for days in a year. 34560 x 365 = 12,614,400
Step 6: Calculate how many breaths in your life so far. Here is where we can get a bit tricky if we like. First to calculate the basic amount I would simply multiply by 30 (my age in years).
12,614,400 x 30 = 378,432,000 breaths, this is a completely acceptable answer.
But what about leap years? You'll need to figure out how many leap years there have been in your life time.
The first leap year since I was born was 1988. Leap years are every 4 years so there have been 8 leap years since I was born (this year also being a leap year, and being past February, our extra day).
Therefore I need to add 8 extra days to my breath count.
378,432,000 +(34560 × 8) = 378,432,000 + 276,480 = 378,708,480 breaths in my life so far.
If you like, from here you can either add on or take away the breaths per hour, or even minute, to your birth time. As this is just an approximation anyway I decided to leave it there ;)
Just incase you were wondering... 378,708,480 meters is about the same as the length of the distance from Earth to the Moon. 378,708,480 miligrams is nearly the weight of a horse. 378,708,480 kilometers per hour is about one-third the speed of The Speed of Light. (I found these nifty facts at The Measure of Things, go have a play with your number and tell me about it in the comments.)
A yoga instructor once told me that the practice of slowing one's breath stems for a belief that each person has a finite amount of breaths in their life and so to prolong your breath is to prolong life. I haven’t been able to find any Buddhist resources to support this claim, but it is an interesting thought. I wonder how many breaths I have left? ...