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Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Chelan - Morgen Owings Elementary Author Visit

What a great day to talk Fibonacci! This morning I got to spend 40 minutes each with four different groups of second and third graders, talking about 'the Zoo'. More than 200 students in total. Boy, was I nervous!

No, not being in front of people talking. I do that for a living as a high school teacher. No, it was being in front of second and third graders that made me a little nervous. See, what is it that really motivates an eight-year old? For some, it's the excitement of coming to school and learning each day - that's awesome! For others, it's just trying to sit still when there is all this energy inside just waiting to get out. For a few, it's a chance to tell another person a story about their life, relevant to the conversation or not. I heard after the fact that 'some famous author was coming to their school to talk about his book.'. My first response was, "Who?" was me.

Fibonacci wouldn't appear to be for the faint of heart. Yes, the sequence is simple enough, but oh, the applications! Still, would it be enough to talk about mating bunnies and zoo animals to keep these youngsters content and still for 40 minutes? The answer was a resounding YES.

These sweet children were such a delight! They asked questions, told me about their bunnies at home, this time they went to the zoo and saw a gorilla just like the 13 in the book, how a cousin speaks Italian (like Fibonacci) and on and on. No one was really that curious about how the book-writing process works, but then again, these were younger students, apparently really excited to meet a famous author (as soon as I figure out who that is, I will let you know!)

I think the best part was filling out our 'notebooks' just like Eli did, and discovering the pattern in the process. It was astounding how many of these kids figured out the pattern on their own without any hints or prompting from me. They discovered the animals were coming in alphabetical order, and easily predicted which animal would be next (except for the geese. They were gorillas). But the best part was when the book ended with a challenge to guess how many animals the next exhibit would hold. I was fascinated by the guesses, from a low of 20 to a high of 300. But so many figured out that after 21 comes 34, and they were expecting to see 34 iguanas, which they did, each one beautifully illustrated by Christina Wald.

I admit - doing four straight presentations is a little tiring, but the adrenaline was pumping, and the smiles on the faces kids discovering a powerful sequence, then successfully drawing their own Fibonacci spiral was what I will remember.

You know - I think I could get used to this...

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