Thousand Million Billion Trillion (classroom activity)

Comparing Thousand, Million, Billion, and Trillion


Time-based Comparisons


If you started counting 1, 2, 3, every second, it would take:

  • ~16.6 minutes to count to 1 thousand


Counting to 1 million seconds would take:

  • 12 days from now, nearly two weeks


Counting to 1 billion seconds would take:

  • Almost 32 years


Counting to 1 trillion seconds would take:

  • 31,688 years, 8 months, 25 days, 3 hours, 58 minutes, and 25 seconds

How to say the year 33712:

  • Thirty-Three Thousand Seven Hundred Twelve

Distance-based Comparisons (Using Steps)

Assuming each step is about 2.5 feet long.

Let's walk 100 steps

Walking 100 steps is approximately 250 feet. How long did this take us? About 1 minute or so, yeah?


If we walked ten times the amount we just walked, that would be 1,000 steps. This would be: 2,500 feet. 2,500 is 0.4734848 miles, so in other words, 1,000 steps is nearly a half mile, and would take us about ten minutes.


Walking 1 million steps would be walking one thousand steps one thousand times. This is approximately 473.5 miles. This would be like walking from Omaha to the Mall of American in Bloomington, MN. This would be about 6.58 days of walking, nonstop.


Now, let's consider walking 1 billion steps. This is like multiplying our 1,000 steps journey by a million. Covering about 473,500 miles, this is no small feat. Imagine setting off on a path that stretches almost twice the distance to the moon! This journey, which would take us far beyond the familiar landscapes of Earth, encapsulates the sheer enormity of a billion. To walk this distance nonstop, you'd be on the move for over 18 years! It's a staggering thought, isn't it? Walking 1 billion steps is a vivid illustration of just how large the number billion truly is.


Walking 1 trillion steps would be walking one million steps steps 1 million times. This is 473,484,848.48 miles, or, walking to the moon and back 1,000 times. It would take about 18,021 years of walking, nonstop.