Add up all of the numbers from
1 to 42
Topics: Starter  Algebra  Number  Problem Solving  Sequences
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Numbers and the Making of UsI initially heard this book described on the Grammar Girl podcast and immediately went to find out more about it. I now have it on my Christmas present wish list and am looking forward to receiving a copy (hint!). "Caleb Everett provides a fascinating account of the development of human numeracy, from innate abilities to the complexities of agricultural and trading societies, all viewed against the general background of human cultural evolution. He successfully draws together insights from linguistics, cognitive psychology, anthropology, and archaeology in a way that is accessible to the general reader as well as to specialists." more... 
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The famous Mathematician Carl Gauss found a quick way to perform this type of
calculation when he was a boy; a long time before calculators!
Students could search the web for details of this story.