Friday, February 9, 2007

NC kid, 8, upstages Ontario Science Centre

There's an old story that one class was misbehaving so much that their teacher forced them to add up all the numbers from 1 to 100. Most of the kids thought they were in for a long grind, but one quickly came up with the correct answer -- 5050. He did this by noting that 100+1 = 101, 99+2 = 101, etc., so 50*101 = 5050. Today, this problem, n(n+1)/2, would actually be considered third grade math but it still stymies many adults.

Well once again, a kid has stumped adults -- and this time, it was no less than the brain trust at the Ontario Science Centre that has mud on its face. An 8 year old from Charlotte, North Carolina named Parker Garrison noticed there was an error in the way a pyramid of jelly beans (part of a travelling exhibition stopping in Charlotte) was calculated. In short, the OSC said to divide the base of the pyramid in half; but Garrison pointed out that the measurements given were already for half a pyramid. Therefore, the correct total was actually double the stated one.

Stuff like that gives me hope for the future. Maybe the next generation won't be fooled by CW (conventional wisdom) like what happened during Vietnam and the lead up to the current Iraq War.

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