Jasper Lynn joins in the A to Z fun during April. Today our post celebrates the letter O.
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OLD MATH, NEW MATH, OLDEST MATH
“I can’t believe we have a test Monday.” Tess groaned as she and Carol left class.
“I know,” Carol answered. “Now we have to study on a weekend. I just wanted to play.”
Tess stopped to adjust the strap on her backpack. “Mrs. Finley is mean.”
The school bus driver bopped the horn.
“Hurry up,” Carol said. “I don’t want to walk home.”
The doors shut with a whoosh. They barely found a seat before the bus lurched forward.
“You want to come over tomorrow and study?” Carol asked.
“Sure. If your mom helps us.” Tess fidgeted in her seat. “Your mom’s cool. Mine won’t help me with my math anymore.”
“She says she doesn’t understand this ‘new math’. She likes the old-fashioned way.”
“Moms.” Carol groaned in understanding. “My mom’s like that about other things. She won’t give me my birthday money until I write my grandparent’s a thank you note first.”
“At least she helps us with our arithmetic. Even if the problems are worked differently now than when she was a girl.”
Carol laughed. “Mom was stumped last night though.”
“Your mom? Can’t be.”
“Yep. It was a math wheel on the internet. It was older than she is. And she couldn’t figure it out.”
“Older than your mom? They had math wheels back then?” The look on Tess’s face showed she wasn’t convinced.
“You’ll see tomorrow.” Carol laughed.
When the bus stopped at their corner they got off and hurried home.
The next day Carol met her friend at the door with a big smile on her face. “C’mon. I told my mom and she has the web site up, ready for you to see.”
“Hi, Mrs. Wilson,” Tess said. She followed Carol into the kitchen, where Carol’s mom sat with a laptop in front of her. She dropped her books on the table. “Mmmmm…something smells really good.”
“Hey sugar,” Mrs. Wilson said, giving Tess a one shouldered hug. “Just out of the oven not too long ago. For you girls, for later. Here. Check it out. The multiplication wheel.”
“Those drawings look really old,” Tess admitted.
“They are. Almost a hundred years old,” Mrs. Wilson said. “And so far, no one can figure out how this wheel works. Even the principle of the school where they were found says she has never seen anything like it.”
“Where’d they come from?” Tess asked.
“A school in Oklahoma. They were doing work in there and uncovered these old chalkboards, with drawings from 1917. They got covered up with new chalkboards and have been hidden all these years.”
“Boy, my mom doesn’t like our new math. I don’t think she’d like this old math, either,” Tess laughed.
Mrs. Wilson got up and got a plate from the counter. “We’ll work on what you need to know for your test Monday. Old math, new math older math. I’m sure it will all be easier with some fresh brownies.”
The girls didn’t answer. They were too busy helping themselves to a plateful of crumbling, tasty treats.
Old Math, New Math, Oldest Math is a story in This and That Too, scheduled for release May 2020