Tag Archives: maths

Geek Freak…Friday Fictioneers: 2nd May, 2018

George was camping, and went out bushwalking, when Thugface grabbed him by the shirt, yanked out his insulin pump and hurled it in the creek.

“Who’s the smart one now, geek freak?”

George flinched as kick, after kick sank into his red hair and blood gushed everywhere.

“You’re going to die…”

George knew it too. He wasn’t made to fight, and out here it didn’t matter  how well he went on his algebra test. That wasn’t going to save his life. Yet, he did know how to tell a story, and scratched his attackers.

Footsteps approached. The sound of hope…

……..

100 words.

The more I worked on this story, I was reminded of the horrific murder of two year old James Bulger by a pair of ten year old boys back in 1992. I abhor violence, but we ignore it at our peril. We need to fight back any way we can and for me that means the pen, which I’ve got to believe is mightier than the sword.

This has been another contribution to Friday Fictioneers hosted by Rochelle Wishoff Fields  PHOTO PROMPT © Karen Rawson

xx Rowena

Teachers Beware: Maths Geek Alert!

Much to my relief, it turned out that it wasn’t me who had to watch out for our son armed with Adam Spencer’s: Big Book of Numbers.

It was his teachers.

Nothing gives a kid more joy than finding out something, anything their teacher doesn’t know… no matter how remote, obscure or incredibly difficult it might be!!

Mister with Adam Spencer

Mister with Adam Spencer

After all, teachers know everything and unlike the rest of us mere mortals, they even have eyes in the back of their heads. (My son’s Kindergarten teacher truly had him convinced!)

Anyway, in a scene reminiscent of a scene snatched straight out of an Andy Griffith’s book (see notes), my son lifted an equation from the Big Book of Numbers and approached his teacher.

Maths Geek let loose in the classroom in the days before whiteboards.

Maths Geek let loose in the classroom in the days before whiteboards.

Unfortunately for her, her didn’t ask her about how you cut a pizza in 29 pieces with only 7 cuts.

He’d used that one up on Adam’s visit at the school (see previous post: https://beyondtheflow.wordpress.com/2015/08/05/the-journey-of-a-thousand-books-sets-sail/).

Instead, referring to Sierpinski numbers, he asked her: 78,557 x 2 11 + 1=?

When she, not unsurprisingly, didn’t know that off the top of her head, he asked another teacher.

He didn’t know either.

Guess who loves maths?!!

Guess who loves maths?!!

Boy was he excited! That was almost better than winning Lotto!

By the way, in case you like to know the answers to such equations, the answer is in the book: 160,884,731. By the way, Spencer also let’s you know that this is also 12,275,749 x 13.

I feel like sending his teachers a sympathy (or is that an empathy) card.

Meanwhile, his friend challenged him to work out 2 to the power of 50 and he was beavering away at that challenge in an exercise book when I ran into him at lunchtime at school.

I can’t tell you how relieved I am that the school is bearing the brunt of this Book of Numbers juggernaut.

After all, I am still struggling to master 10 digit arithmetic!

chess_2

That said, I have gone a few rounds of chess with him this week. He is finding playing against Mummy quite a “different” experience. His father has taught him a few strategic manoeuvres, which we’ve both half-forgotten. So, what with me being more creative than logical, our chess games, you could say, get a bit off track. It’s a case of Rafferty’s Rules with “chase the horse”, “waltzing with the king” and a full theatrical performance. After long grueling matches, we’ve even had a stalemate, when we each were somehow left with just our kings. However, usually these long extended clashes eventually wind up with the king cornered and then I guess it’s “off with his head”.

So for my next conundrum, why haven’t either of my kids approached me with question related to the thesaurus?

Probably because I’d be on my own turf there and actually know what I am doing!

xx Rowena

Andy Griffiths & I photographed at the Sydney Writer's Festival in 2012. I did an amazing writer's workshop with him.

Andy Griffiths & I photographed at the Sydney Writer’s Festival in 2012. I did an amazing writer’s workshop with him.

Notes

Andy Griffiths is one of Australia’s most popular children’s authors. Andy is best known for The Treehouse series, the JUST! books and The Day My Bum Went Psycho. Over the last 20 years Andy’s books have been New York Times bestsellers, adapted for the stage and television and won more than 50 Australian children’s choice awards. Andy, a passionate advocate for literacy, is an ambassador for The Indigenous Literacy Foundation and The Pyjama Foundation.http://www.treehousebookseries.com/modal/author/

The Journey of A Thousand Books Sets Sail.

“A room without books is like a body without a soul.”
― Marcus Tullius Cicero

Do you remember that incredible, mind-blowing feeling when you finally found THAT BOOK when you were young which suddenly opened up the world of reading? That sense of discovering your very own Disneyland, a veritable Aladdin’s cave of treasures…all through the pages of a book! It’s something you never forget!

For me, that book was The Diary of Anne Frank, which my mother gave me for my 13th birthday. It was a very conscious move on her part as she really wanted me to share her love of reading and experience that wonder for myself. After a few misses along the way, it worked. Anne Frank the same age as me, a writer and someone I could relate to in so many ways. Moreover, her diary was also non-fiction and I’m still not really much of a novel reader.

However, reading the The Diary of Anne Franknot only sparked my love of reading, it also encouraged my love of writing and inspired me to write my own journal which I called, apparently not so originally, “Anne”.

Of course, there’s been a lot of water under the bridge since then.

Now, as a parent, I’ve found myself in my mother’s shoes, trying to engender a love of reading for our son. To take him beyond all the many books which we have read together snuggled on my lap, to the point where he’ll want to grab a book and read it for himself. That like the rest of the family, his books will also become his friends. However, this transition is not necessarily a given, even if you come from a family of avid readers and even writers. It is a path we each have to work out for ourselves. That said, as parents we can increase the odds by providing good maps, compasses, encouragement and, of course, a strong torch (It could even be the same torch you used to use to read in bed when it was supposedly “lights out”!)

Trying to find this game-changing book for our son has been a bit hit and miss and certainly hasn’t been helped by his love of the dreaded computer game, Minecraft.

Perhaps I’m getting old but I’m convinced electronic games are a much greater evil than the box ever was in our day. The TV also used to go to sleep in those days and wasn’t awake all night. I’ve lost track of the friends who’ve woken up in the middle of the night and found their kid playing Minecraft or similar. It’s there 24/7,. That is, unless you lock it up in the garage like we do during the week. Well, at least that’s the iPads.

Anyway, it now looks like he has finally found THE BOOK. For 11 year old Mister who is pretty interested in maths, this book is The Big Book of Numbers by self-confessed Maths Geek, Adam Spencer. If you haven’t heard of Adam Spencer, you can check him out here: https://adamspencer.com.au/ I can assure you that he comes highly recommended and by none less than Monty Python’s John Cleese: “If you find this book boring, you should be in a clinic.”

Mister asking Adam some questions from the book. Yes, he had read it...I was so proud!

Mister asking Adam some questions from the book. Yes, he had read it…I was so proud!

Well, as it turns out Mister wasn’t the only one reading The Big Book of Numbers this week. I am almost ashamed to admit it but I also crossed to the dark side. That’s right. I was reading it too. I even enjoyed it and could even understand some of it. For someone who sticks with 10 digit arithmetic, that’s a glowing endorsement!

I mean I live, breathe and even eat the thesaurus.

After all, as we all know, the world is divided into two very distinct camps. There’s alphabet soup on one side and number soup on the other and never the twain shall meet. That is, unless you’re talking about someone who is off the charts smart. What my son calls a “brainiac”. Just to clarify that, this word is used to the best of my knowledge, as a compliment, not as an insult.

Once wasn't enough. Reading the book in class on Open Day.

Once wasn’t enough. Reading the book in class on Open Day.

The reason I crossed to the dark side was simple. Adam Spencer was visiting the kids’ school this week as one of the Dymock’s Children’s Charity’s Book Bank Ambassadors and I was do the publicity for the P & C. That had me behind the camera, grabbing a friend to take notes and then writing what wouldn’t be a churned out press release afterwards. With this job ahead, naturally I felt I had to read the book, especially as Adam Spencer’s face has been calling out to me from the cover for the last six months. Indeed, we’ve almost been having a dialogue. You know how it is when all those books you have piled up beside the bed and all around your desk and almost up to the ceiling, all look up at you with those adorable, irresistible puppy dog eyes saying:”Read me! Read ME!”

You do end up with quite a guilt complex, don’t you?!

Adam Spencer at school this week. Quite a change of pace to Sydney University's Manning Bar!

Adam Spencer at school this week. Quite a change of pace to Sydney University’s Manning Bar!

Yet, just to add further fuel to my guilt, Adam Spencer and I went to Sydney University together where not all roads but a great many, led to Manning Bar before, during and after lectures. Just to set the record straight, I wasn’t much of a drinker but I was a talker. Anyway, Adam and I weren’t what you’d call friends but were possibly “mates”. That’s a sort of generic term we use in Australia to describe just about anyone you’re a bit friendly with over those few degrees of separation. Close friends of mine were friends with him.

Adam Spencer gave the kids an entertaining and mathematically mind-boggling presentation which culminated with his enthusiastic message to “Read! Read! Read!. However, for me personally, the greatest moments were those few unplanned minutes afterwards where the “maths geeks” popped out of the woodwork not only wanting copies of their Big Book of Numbers signed. They really wanted to talk with Adam and share his world, even if only for a few brief minutes because they’d found someone like them. Maybe, they weren’t quite “the best mathematicians in the world”, which is how my son referred to Adam, but they spoke the same language. Who knows? Perhaps, there was a young mathematician in that hall whose whole life path suddenly opened up to them. That after hearing and meeting Adam Spencer that they now know who they are and possibly even where they belong. That is a struggle for anyone I think and a possibility, which was opened up by this great opportunity. By having the opportunity to step outside their usual sphere and experience something else.

I certainly know Adam Spencer’s visit and his book have opened up my son’s mind and have very definitely lit a spark. Who knows where that will go. He is only 11 and his journey is only beginning. As Lao Tzu wrote so well:

A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.

The only trouble is that as an 11 year old, Mum and Dad somehow need to keep up!

So how about you? What was the book which launched your love of reading? How about kids? I love to hear your stories!

xx Rowena

About Dymock’s Book Bank

To find out more about the Dymock’s Children’s Charity’s Book Bank Project, click here: https://dcc.gofundraise.com.au/cms/bookbank