# The Human Calculator, 3

## Vocabulary

guy | pick (2) | fast/faster/fastest |

human | literally | preparation |

add | amazing | find/found/found |

earth | disappear | as opposed to |

let me | attention | pay/paid/paid |

punish | call him to | pay attention |

solve | instead | get into trouble |

times | graduate | give/gave/given |

add up | backwards | approach (2) |

loud | carry (2) | say out loud |

answer | just as fast | say/said/said |

luck | discover | go/went/gone |

realize | count (2) | know/knew/known |

trouble | point (3) | easy/easier/easiest |

grid | apparently | good/better/best |

planet | visualize | think/thought/thought (2) |

mental | graduate | it turns out |

column | efficient | come up with |

unique | method | combination |

brain | fraction | according to |

equal | punch in | run/ran/run (2) |

digit | punch (2) | hit/hit/hit (3) |

look at | count (2) | go/went/gone |

choice | second (2) | tell/told/told |

boring | record (3) | lose/lost/lost |

precise | try/tried | complicated |

grocery | figure (2) | find/found/found |

allow | check (2) | checkbook |

lease | run into | opportunity |

option | show (2) | buy/bought/boughtprecise |

fun | mission (2) | comes down to |

pattern | trick (2) | come up with |

easy | figure out | account (3) |

attend | all around | see/saw/seen |

funny | decimal | all kinds of |

savings | decision | grow/grew/grown (2) |

solid | foundation | good/better/best |

sense (2) |

## Video

## Transcript

The guy you’re looking at is the world’s fastest human calculator. He can literally add numbers faster than he can talk.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Three six three six four three nine two four . . .”

Who is he? How is he so smart? And did you know that he didn’t even graduate from high school?

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “One five three five.”

Journalist: “Oh my god you got it right. That’s amazing!”

In Arizona, USA, I found Scott.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Hi I’m Scott Flansberg and I’m faster than any calculator on the planet earth.”

This guy is so fast, he can keep adding any number to itself 36 times in 15 seconds, and it looks like this:

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Yes.”

Journalist: “21 plus 46 plus 73 plus 6 plus 62 plus 24 plus 6 plus 113 plus 104 plus 1 plus 17 plus 1 plus 142 plus 123 plus 137.”

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “1535”.

Journalist: “Oh my god; you got it right. That’s amazing.”

**. . . . . . . .
**

But first let me tell you how all of this started.

In third grade, Scott wasn’t paying attention in math class. So to punish him, his teacher called him to the board and asked him to solve a math question.

But instead of getting into trouble, he got the correct answer without preparation. So the teacher gave him another math problem and he got the right answer again.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “So i just added up the column of numbers going down the columns backwards — and just said the answer out loud. And she was like ‘You’re right, but how did where’s your carry? How’d you do that?’

And I said, ‘Oh, don’t you start over here?’

And she goes, ‘No you have to start over here.’ And so she gave us another one. And I did it just as fast. And she goes, ‘What are you doing?’”

Scott didn’t just get the answer right by luck; he actually discovered a new way of counting.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “And that’s when I realized that maybe teachers don’t know everything. Maybe they’re just teaching what they know.

And so from that point forward, everything I would learn in math class I would look for an easier way to get the answer.”

**. . . . . . . .
**

Apparently when you think of numbers from 0 to 9, as opposed 1 to 10, you can visualize the number grid better. And that apparently makes it easier to do multiplying and addition of numbers.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “I realized that everyone was learning how to count from one to ten. But if you want to think like a calculator, there’s no ten; it’s really zero through nine.

And it turns out that doing numbers in your head is much easier left to right than right to left. When you do it right to left, you have to remember all these numbers you’re coming up with and carrying.

When you start from the left, you’re just keeping one running total which makes it much easier because all those numbers that you go by and do disappear. You don’t need to think about them anymore.

And so left to right, I just a much more efficient approach to doing mental math.”

**. . . . . . . .
**

His unique method and his unique brain became a deadly combination. Before he knew it, he became the fastest human calculator in the world, not once but twice according to the Guinness World Record.

Without ever attending college or graduating from high school!

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Punch in a two-digit number the same two-digit number and hit equals. And I’m going to start counting by that number — this is my world record.

So tell me what number you picked.”

TV Show Host: “I picked 26.”

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “So do you have 52. Hit equals again to say 78, 104, 130, 156, 182, 2 08, 234, four four two four . . .”

TV Show Host: “Ahhhh, you’re losing me!”

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “260-6-312-36 eight four nine four five two . . . So my world record is 36 times in 15 seconds.”

Now he goes to visit schools to show kids that math is not as complicated as we think.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Most students find math boring just because of the way it’s taught. So what I do is try to figure out ways to make math real, so that you’ve run into these things in everyday life.

There’s all kinds of opportunities to allow students and parents to see how important numbers are whether you’re at the grocery store, doing your checkbook, buying a house buying a car, leasing a car, all these different choices and options come down to numbers.

And so I use every opportunity I can in everyday life to help make numbers and math more real for students.”

He invented fun patterns, came up with easy tricks for kids to count.

Scott Flansburg, Human Calculator: “Numbers are the most precise, powerful and popular language on the planet earth. My mission is to help them see how numbers are all around us in everyday life, whether you use money, fractions and decimals.

There’s all kinds of things around our everyday lives that are perfect for lessons to show students how important numbers truly are. As you grow into being an adult is whether it’s your bank account, savings, interest, do you buy a car, lease a car.

There’s so many numerical decisions that come up in life. It’s just better to have students with a solid foundation of number sense.”

Scott’s story shows us that there is always more than one way to learn, more than one way to find your answers. Sometimes you just need to make your own rules.

*** * * * * * *
**

## Questions

**Math. **Scott Flansburg uses paper and pencil to perform mathematical calculations. True or false? Is there anything that limits how fast he can give an answer?

**Arithmetic.** Did Scott’s elementary school teacher always know that Scott was gifted in math? Was Scott a well-behaved student?

**Addition, Plus.** Did he listen to his teacher and did exactly as he was told? Was he a maverick, iconoclast or rebel?

**Subtraction, Minus.** Since Scott calculates everything in his head, he totally disregards calculators and thinks in terms of his fingers and toes. Is this right or wrong?

According to Scott, who could better adapt his method, Israelis and Lebanese or Paraguayans and Uruguayans?

**Multiplication, Times.** Scott has a PhD in advanced mathematics. Is this correct or incorrect? Has Scott become famous or is he unknown to the public?

**Positive and Negative Numbers.** Is Scott a (full-time) scientist or engineer? What does he do? What is his primary occupation?

**Division, Divide.** Does he believe that the key to mastering math is through many years of intensive study and hard work?

**Fractions.** Being really good in math is only useful for scientists, engineers and economists and accountants.

**Percentage.** I study math at school. Yes or no? If yes, what math do you study? Arithmetic, geometry, algebra, trigonometry, calculus?

**Decimals, Decimal Points.** Who is the best in math in your school, company or community?

**Geometry. **Is math fun and easy, hard and difficult or in the middle?

**Trigonometry. **Can math be made fun and easy to learn? How can math be fun and easy to learn?

**Algebra.** Is math very important in life? Do you need math for a good career?

**Calculus.** What might happen in the future?

**Integrals, Differentiation.** What could or should schools, universities, governments, businesses and students do?