Wednesday, August 18, 2010


On Monday, my girl was doing a little maths tutorial where she learned a trick for adding the numbers 1 to 9. The lesson mentioned in passing a man named Gauss who'd come up with a nifty way of adding number series. Then the tutorial asked, Now you know how to add from 1 - 9, can you add all the numbers from 1 to 100?

No way! said my girl.

Well, I said, maybe? Like, if we do this, and then that, and then this, maybe we could…?

And then we asked my son. He said, Of course! You just add this to that over and over. See?

Well, of course.

So then I was browsing a link to a maths site yesterday morning and there was a lesson on adding number series. It spoke of a man called Carl Friedrich Gauss. (Serendipity, I love you)

I've since done some reading on him. His other name? The Prince of Mathematicians.

When he was a child, Gauss figured out in seconds how to quickly add all the numbers from 1 to 100. He went on to become a mathematician and scientist, and in his time was considered one of the most important mathematicians since the Greek philosophers.

On this site, the tutor showed exactly how Gauss had done it. So I had to show the kids. Together, we saw how it was done and it was very clever.

My son's theory on Monday was almost right, which was pretty cool. Maybe he's got a future in mathematical prodigy-ing? That is, if he isn't too busy being a historian, artist, drummer, writer and inventor. Maybe he'll fit it all in.

As for me, when I couldn't sleep last night, lying awake at the magical hour of 4 o'clock, I found myself adding from 6 to 83, and number series like 3, 6, 9, all the way to 99.

It was incredibly satisfying. It felt like I'd been given Maths Wings.

1 comment:

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