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Math Whiz

School started in late August and it's now the second week in September. Everyone knows where to put their stuff , how to shelve the books in the reading area, and where the colored pencils, glue, and paint belong. They know how to run the Morning Meeting and who the best artists and readers are. They know that Gerry Perkins is a pain and that Lilly Lastrada is allergic to peanuts. And on this particular Tuesday morning, they know Mr. DeSanto has something up his sleeve.

Everyone has brought chairs to the circle in front of the whiteboard. Mr. DeSanto has a chair, too, but he isn't sitting in it. Instead, he has his foot on the seat and is leaning his left elbow on his bent knee. Chloe notices that his socks don't match and the back of his shirt is untucked. He's tossing a whiteboard marker in the air and catching it with his free hand. Chloe knows this is not a good sign.

Oliver's sitting across the circle from Chloe. He's watching Mr. DeSanto like a cat watches a mouse hole, just dying to see what the math teacher will do next. Chloe studies a poster fastened to the whiteboard with magnets. It looks like a clump of brown bumps, but she can't make out what they are. She wonders uneasily what they have to do with math.

Mr. DeSanto waits for everyone to get settled. Then he lifts his foot off the chair, tosses and catches the marker one more time, and clears his throat. He looks around the circle until he gets everyone's attention. Then he turns and scrawls "Fibonacci" on the whiteboard.

Oliver makes a little sound in his throat and smiles at the mysterious word on the board. The rest of the kids seem as clueless as Chloe.

"So, today I'm going to introduce you to one of my favorite mathematicians. Class, meet Leonardo Bonacci aka Fibonacci, Italian math whiz of the Middle Ages."

Sam Sanders rolls his eyes, Julie Nolan whispers something to Katie Patterson. Chloe hears math whiz and starts to sweat. But Oliver is bouncing on the edge of his seat, waving his hand in the air, looking expectantly at Mr. DeSanto.

The teacher grins. "Ok, Oliver, go ahead," he says."Tell us."

"Fibonacci Numbers. It's a kind of pattern...well, like you start at one and then you add the next number to it and you keep going...and..." Oliver slides back in his seat. "And it's really cool..." he adds lamely.

"You got it, my man. The Fibonacci Sequence. First discovered in India a gazillion years ago. Introduced to Europe by Fibonacci around the 13th century."

Turning to the white board, Mr. DeSanto writes a row of numbers: 1 1 2 3 5 8 13 21.

"Take a look at this sequence of numbers and tell me what you see." He drops the marker into the tray and sits down. Folding his arms, he looks at the class and waits.

Chloe stars at the numbers. She gets the 1,2,3, but wonders what happened to the 4. All around her, light bulbs are going on in the other kids' heads, but hers remains dark. Mr. DeSanto doesn't move. Kids are fidgeting, bursting to tell what they see, but the teacher keeps waiting.

Finally, Chloe remembers what Oliver said about adding the next number...2 and 3 make 5...3 and 5 make 8...Whoa! She got it! Thank you, Oliver!

When he thinks all the bulbs are lit, the teacher stands up and grabs the marker. "So, what's the next number?"

Chloe adds the last two numbers in the sequence. Thirty-four?

Mr. DeSanto points to Maddy.

"Thirty-four?" she says, half-asking, half-telling.

"Bingo!" Mr. DeSanto tosses the marker so high, it ricochets off the ceiling light, falls toward his desk, and lands in his coffee cup.

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