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Wily Winifred and the Case of the Odd Numbers

Mrs. Shine was having a rough day and wanted a break. So she asked her class to calculate the sum of the first 50 odd numbers. In a few moments, Winifred was at her desk with the correct answer of 2,500. Stunned, Mrs. Shine figured she must have gotten lucky, and sent precocious Winifred back to her seat with the task of finding the sum of the first 75 odd numbers. Again, Winifred returned in seconds with the correct answer (5,625).

How did Winifred find the answer so quickly?

Winifred, being the precocious child she is, realized there was a pattern when computing smaller sums of odd numbers.

First 3: 1 + 3 + 5 = 9
First 4: 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 = 16
First 5: 1 + 3 + 5 + 7 + 9 = 25

Do you see the pattern like our dear friend Winnie?

For the first n odd numbers, the sum is equal to n2. Thus the first 50 is 502, or 2,500, and the first 75 is 752, or 5,625.


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