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Herkimer, N.Y. —
Just like any athlete, Scott Flansburg said he needed to warm up before working out. Before an assembly of about 700 students from several school districts in the Herkimer County Community College gymnasium, Flansburg did just that, but not by doing stretches or laps around the gym. He instead exercised his mind.
The first thing he did was add the number 0+1+2+3+4+5+6+7+8+9, and then multiplied random two-digit numbers picked out by students and did long division without the use of paper or a device.
Flansburg, known as “The Human Calculator®,” showed off his skills during Tuesday’s assembly.
Schools that had students attend the event included Benton Hall Academy, Dolgeville, Frankfort-Schuyler, Ilion, Mount Markham and West Canada Valley.
Flansburg, a Herkimer native and a West Canada Valley High School graduate, has seen international success with his ability to calculate mathematical problems. His nickname was given to him by former talk show host Regis Philibin, and he has appeared on the Oprah Winfrey Show, Ellen, Good Morning America, The Tonight Show and Stan Lee’s Superhumans on the History Channel. Flansburg is also the ambassador for World Maths Day 2011 and is a spokesperson for www.mathletics.com.
As Flansburg spouted out the answer to equations, Jean Smith, a math teacher at Benton Hall Academy in Little Falls, entered the numbers so the students and other teachers in the audience could see the correct answer. The screen was to Flansburg’s back so he could not see the answers.
Flansburg showed, too, he is faster than a calculator when computing the numbers given.
Because of this skill, Flansburg name is in the Guinness Book of World Records. Flansburg urged the students to start thinking like a calculator. “If you want to turn on ‘your’ calculator, you need to start at zero,” he said.
After having the students use “their” calculators for equations such as 3+3, he noted the answers they gave were more through memorization. “When you talk about math, you have to be calculating, not memorizing,” he said. “You have to turn on the calculator in your brain to feel fluent in math.”
The fourth- and fifth-graders eagerly participated in the event, clamoring for the microphone when it was passed around to give Flansburg the next set of numbers to calculate and shouted out the answers when he asked them a question.
Organizers of the event said the purpose of it was to get children excited about math.
“We want to get them early so that they’re interested in math and science,” said HCCC President Ann Marie Murray. “And to keep them engaged and entertained for the entire presentation, which was a whole hour, that’s a great thing for them.”