Generalizations in the Shower

During a quick shampoo, my 8-year-old son starts sharing a “pattern” that had *just* occurred to him.  He starts explaining a beautiful mathematical truth and I beg him to repeat it once he rinses off.

Here is his explanation of his pattern, expressed one way asScreen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.08.57 PM


Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 9.30.28 PM








After I finished recording the video, he asked for a calculator, and promptly tested his pattern with bigger numbers.  Upon pressing ENTER he said, “YES!” with a fist pump.  “You see?  It works!  It’s minus 1, see?  I knew I was right.”  It was also quite fun to watch him ponder place value for his second calculator example.  He typed several numbers, erasing them before hitting ENTER because he knew they weren’t correct.  He confidently pressed ENTER once he realized that 99,999 is between 99,998 and 100,000 (he carefully counted those zeros!)

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.22.43 PM

Screen Shot 2014-06-03 at 8.22.12 PM

I talked him through the algebraic notation shown above, and his matter-of-fact response was, “Hmm.  Yeah, I get that.”

I kind of believe him. 🙂






This entry was posted in Algebra 1, Pre-Algebra and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Generalizations in the Shower

  1. Josh says:

    Love it!

  2. Victoria Layman says:

    This is fabulous! He is 8 years old and came up with it in the shower!! I’m so excited about this – I teach 6th grade math and I never even knew that this pattern existed but it really could help students with their multiplication tables!! WOW!!! GO ISAAC!!! 🙂

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