The next day Mr. Donelly entered class in a great mood. "Hello people. Are you all ready for the challenge of the quarter?"
The class sat there just looking at him, still not sure if he was really serious or not.
"Well ready or not, here it is." He walked around the room and handed everyone a single piece of 8.5 x 11 inch, plain, white, paper.
"Your challenge is to cut a hole in this paper and walk through that hole. You may use only a pencil and a pair of scissors.
"Next Monday we will present our solutions to this challenge. And remember, it's all or nothing. No partial credit will be awarded. You will either do it or you won't. All those who are not successful will be unable to earn an 'A' for this last quarter.
"So be thoughtful. Think about what surface area really is. Think about length, and width, and the third dimension. Let the Mathematicians in your souls come to life," Mr. Donely's eyes brightened as he said these words. You could tell he lived for this stuff.
"Only a math teacher could take such perverse pleasure in such an idiotic assignment," thought Grizelda. "I'm doomed, I might as well admit it now," she said softly to Zig.
"That's crap. Don't you dare say that again. There has to be a way to do this, or he wouldn't have given it to us. We've just got to figure it out. We have a whole week. Don't give up on it before we even start. No, don't give up on US. WE can do this Zella. I'm not sure how right now, but we'll figure something out." Zig sounded like one of those movies where the hero solves the impossible challenge by sheer will and determination, and a huge dose of Hollywood trick photography. Nevertheless, his positive attitude had an infectious result, and she found herself beginning to believe that maybe they could do it.
"Okay, okay, I'll shut up. Lord knows we've got to try or you won't get your hottie girlfriend next year!" laughed Grizelda.
"There that's the spirit. I propose that we meet and begin tonight in our lucky spot at the library," said Zig.
And so they did. They each brought a stack of plain white paper and a few pencils and a pair of scissors.
Zig tried the obvious approach first. He simply cut a big hole in the center of his paper and threw out the center. He tried to put his head through the hole; it wouldn't fit. So he tried to put his foot through. It went through, so he slid the paper up his skinny leg. It went as far as his knee before it ripped. "Darn it! Man I almost had it. Did you see how far I got with that one?" asked Zig.
"Come on Zig, be serious. If it was going to be that easy, everyone would get it," said Grizelda.
"Yeah, I guess you're right. It just seemed like the logical way to start," defended Zig.
"We have to THINK. What could he mean? Walk through a hole in a piece of 8.5 x 11 inch paper? It can't be done," said Grizelda. She was starting to pull the blanket of negative thinking over her head again.
"STOP WOMAN!" yelled Zig. "I see the ghost of a dead future hanging right over your fiery red locks. Quick let me vanquish yon spirit and give ye back thy youthful hope and vigor and smile!" vowed Zig. At this, he quickly rose, scissors in hand. He struck out at the imaginary spirit above Zella's head with his scissors wielding them like a knight's sword. He swung and cut the air violently with his "sword".
Grizelda began to laugh, and Zig continued, making wider strokes with great theatrical flourish. Then they both heard it, "RRRip."
While zealously fighting this monster ghost of despair, Zig had struck out a bit too far and snagged a colorful children's book poster hanging from the ceiling behind Grizelda. Zig and Grizelda turned to see that Zig's scissors had ripped two ribbonlike curves in the paper. These cuts, although they were still attached to the main poster, now drooped down and revealed a rainbow shaped hole in its center.
They stared for a moment. Then simultaneously they both began to smile. The idea hit them at the same moment. And it was a wonderful idea, a wonderful, beautiful, elegant use of surface area. It was true. What Mr. Donelly had said was right. This WAS a great assignment because the answer was just too cool.
They immediately set to secretly discussing and experimenting. They felt like nuclear scientist working on the experiments for the first atomic bomb. Secrecy was of the UTMOST importance. No one must steal their idea!
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