A Figure for Math Change: `The Human Calculator’ Makes Numbers Count

Have you heard of The Human Calculator?

If not, you can find him at, aptly enough, www.humancalculator.com.

His actual name, the one that he was born with nearly 48 years ago, is Scott Flansburg. Two weeks ago, he buzzed through Chicago, speaking to nine schools as part of his work as an ambassador for Mathletics. Among other things, Scott taught youngsters about the amazing quality of the number 9 and its potential to “turn on the human calculator” in each of them.

Scott Flansburg during his talk at St. Bede the Venerable School in Chicago.

I accompanied him to a 45-minute presentation that he gave on Sept. 22 at St. Bede the Venerable School in Chicago. It was as entertaining and educational as I imagined it would be—Scott’s obviously done this more than a few times over the years.

My history with Scott dates back to the late 1990s, when I tracked him down for an interview in connection with my syndicated column, “By the Numbers,” that I wrote for Copley Newspapers. Around that same time, I had begun sharing the wonder of numbers at schools in and around Elgin.

Those interactions spun off into a “Summer Math Puzzler” column in The Courier-News of Elgin—reinforcing mathematical teachings over the school break so that children didn’t backslide in this vital area of learning.

Thereafter, Scott and I kept in touch, but we hadn’t met face-to-face until his recent visit to the Windy City. One of the highlights of our four hours together was his giving an impromptu personal tutorial to my 8-year-old twin children in our living room.

Scott Flansburg, flanked by my budding 8-year-old human calculators.

Fittingly, Scott’s goal is to reach as many 8-year-olds across the globe, alerting them, before their 9th birthday, to the number 9’s pervasive ability to turn on their own human calculators.

You can see also a clip I shot of The Human Calculator talking about The Nature of the Number 9.

11 thoughts on “A Figure for Math Change: `The Human Calculator’ Makes Numbers Count

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