Gauss was a German mathematician who lived in the late 1700’s through the mid-1800’s. Stories picturing him as a child mathematical prodigy abound, though some are probably not true. One such story has him correcting his father’s arithmetic on some business accounts when Gauss was only three.
Gauss also attended a one-room schoolhouse as a child. The schoolmaster was a rather harsh individual who believed in using a whipping cane as a motivational device. One day, this teacher assigned his students the task of adding the integers 1-100, an early example of a teacher assigning “busy work”. Gauss almost immediately turned in his slate. The schoolmaster, thinking Gauss was mocking him, waited until all slates were turned in to begin grading. After grading all the slates, only Gauss had the correct answer. What did he notice? 1+100 = 101, 2+99 = 101, 3+98=101, 4+97=101…There are 50 pairs of numbers that sum to 101, and 50 x 101 = 5050.
Happily, the schoolmaster then recognized that Gauss was rather gifted, and began to train him in mathematics.
For more information…http://scienceworld.wolfram.com/biography/Gauss.html