Sarah loved stargazing. Every night, after dinner, she would sit with her mother on the front porch of their house and look up into the sky.
The skies were filled with thousands of stars.
“Dad, mom, what is that one?” Sarah cried excitedly as she pointed towards various constellations.
Sarah’s mother, an astrophysicist, would share her knowledge with her.
“There are so many stars,” Sarah would say, trying to count them.
Her mother chuckled. “This is nothing. The universe is much bigger. We can only see a speck of the entire universe?”
Sarah’s eyes widened. “Really? How big is it?”
“Sarah, imagine you took the number of stars you can see right now and multiply it by a million; it will still be tiny compared to how large the universe is.”
“That will be so much to write. How will I write so many numbers?” said Sarah.
Fortunately, the concept of exponents will come to Sarah's aid.
Exponential growth is a simple doubling. One becomes two becomes four.
Experts believe that a tiny cluster of galaxies, including the Milky Way, is as big as 2 x 1024 metres (that is, 2 followed by 24 zeros!), while the smallest known virus known to us is 80 x 10-9 nanometers, which is 0.000000080 nanometers.
Thanks to exponents, we won’t make careless mistakes while writing so many zeroes, but exponents are more than writing error-free numbers. Exponents are used to calculate the areas and volumes of two and three-dimensional objects.
So if your child isn’t interested in astronomy but loves basketball, why don’t you suggest, they calculate the area of your backyard that doubles up as a basketball court? Understanding these basics is not just a fun activity but will also subtly raise your child’s mathematical quotient.