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Kepping Tabs on Tabs

In Grand Mound Elementary School (Rochester, WA), students in grades 3-5 are collecting tubs full of aluminum can pop tabs. Thus far, they have 194,056 pop tabs. Their goal: to collect a million pop tabs so that the students gain a better idea as what the number "one million" means.

When asked how long it would take to count one million pop tabs, two third-grade students had different ideas:

  • "If you work on it all day, it'd be 13 weeks" (Alison Ricker)
  • "Two weeks if you had a lot of boxes" (Rikki Keith)
Now, to gather some data, fifth-grader Sunny Sanders and three classmates did a test during a rained-out recess. They discovered that the four of them together could count about 3,000 pop tabs in 20 minutes.

Question: Which student--Alison or Rikki--was closest (i.e. how long does it take for one person to count out 1,000,000 pop tabs)?

Source: The Chronicle (Rochester, WA), June, 2006.