Chapter 1: Jake: Expressions

As the clock reached 3:15, the bell rang after school and I quickly jumped out of the class and to my locker. As I spun the lock around then back around, I asked my best-friend whose name also happens to be Jake, but spelled Jacob, “What are you going to do when you get home?” That was a stupid question, since basketball was a week away and his dad was the coach of the team. Jacob said, “I’m going to go home and Dad and I are going to play some basketball.” I wanted to join so badly, anything to avoid going home. It was a 2 mile walk home and knew if he waited till his mother got off work at 6:00 he would get a ride home. “Sounds good,” I said “have fun.” And he bolted toward the front doors.

As the clock in the hallway reached 5 minutes till 3:30 he knew that it was going to be a long wait till my mother came. I saw a poster hanging on the wall that looked tattered and been hanging there for months. It said,

**COME TO MATH CLUB, ROOM 802 TUESDAY 3:30 PM, BRING YOUR FRIENDS!!! **
I didn't need to practice, since I practiced every day this summer, when I wasn't playing football or baseball. I had always been decent at math and as a 8th grader is in the advanced algebra group. He decided to walk in to Mr. Kool’s math classroom (Pronounced “cool”) was not what his name was. Mr. Kool looked 45 even though he was just out of college, his belly hung over his belt and most of his pants. His large glasses always misplaced, hung over his face that scared most students in his classes.

I still had a few minutes until the club started and there were only 3 other people, waiting for more people to show up, took out his worksheet over variables. This was review from last year and he could clearly remember how to evaluate variable expressions, by substituting numbers in for variables. I quickly finished the worksheet since I only had a few answers left.

As the clock ticked further down with only a few seconds left until 3:30 I quickly glanced over my things and quickly packed them in to my backpack. I thought I would get out of here and take my walk home over spending my time with 2 what looked like 8 year-olds and a shy girl in the corner. As the teacher was sleeping with a newspaper on his fat belly the bell rang again to signal 3:30 as my hand hit the door knob to exit.

The two young boys were arguing and now starting to fight while the desks slid and screeched along the floor. One boy shot out of his desk and ran to the chalk board murmuring to himself. “No, just because your called squared doesn't mean you are more powerful than me. I am the base, therefore you are just the exponent. You are nothing more than a small little number above me.” This strange statement started trouble with what looked like the same boy.

Most students remembered the order of operations by using the acronym Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally. But, I had Aunt Sally feared her so I never used it. Order of Operations is a set of rules in mathematics that all mathematicians must abide by. P stands for parenthesis, which means evaluate what is inside them. E stands for exponents, then multiplication/division, lastly addition and subtraction. The last rule is you must evaluate from left to right, no matter what.

Variables are letters used to represent letters in mathematics. Why are there letters? Letters are used to represent things. Like in Jake’s worksheet, if Bob bought 2 apples at 1 dollar per apple, what is the expression? Well the expression can be written as 2 x a (where a represents apples) You can evaluate the price of the purchase by substituting in the price for the variable. The next step looks like 2 x (1), which equals 2$ which you would pay two dollars for two apples.

As I walked up to pull the two boys apart, I watched the teacher closely as the teacher sat there still sleeping away in the most noisy classroom he has ever been in. I picked one up off the other and said, “Knock it off.” One boy shot up and said sorry as soon as he saw how much larger I was than he. One boy quickly announced, “My name is Calvin and this is my brother Christian, but friends call me ‘C’ and since we look exactly the same, call him “C squared.”

Which made sense since they looked exactly the same, not the way twins look the same, but eerily similar so similar in fact they look like clones of the same person. I guess that is why they call the one squared since a power is the result of a repeated multiplication of the same factor.

C went on to say, “Since you two have never been here before, we are the Order of the Operations, like Knights of the Round table We work to make sure the school functions as we see fit.”

“What do you mean?” the shy girl quickly hissed from under her bangs.

C Squared who was now sitting in his desk said, “We run the school and make sure things work out according to our calculations.”

“What do you mean?” I asked.

“Well that is why we are called the Order of the Operations.” C said. He went on to state, “ We have rules you must abide by to be a part of the Order.” He pulled down what looked like was going to be the overhead, but instead was the rules of the Order.

1. P: Pay attention at all times.

2. E: Be Exact: Miscalculations can kill.

3. M: Make sure you are never seen.

4. D: Do as you are directed by others.

5. A: Ask no questions.

6. S: Say nothing to others.

7. Lastly, down below always follow orders as they are given.

This was a lot to take in as the clock shot past 5:30 and knew his mother would be coming soon and never wanted to keep her waiting. . There were so many questions he wanted to ask and time was running out as he picked up his back pack and was starting to leave.

“Are you in?” C said, “If not we can wipe your memory of today.”