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Skill... drill... kill! You nailed that one. I am not sure what would possess someone to take a chore and make it so monotone and boring! Patterns are always a preferable idea to use in mathematics - they are fundamental! I would get my hands on at least a scientific calculator and show your son how to use the exponent key! 10^10, for instance. I think I would find examples of things that are 10^10 big, so that he realizes why understanding the concept of multiplying a number over and over usually yields a very big number in comparison to what you started with, except for 1. You might ask him how many ways a 10-question true-false test could be answered. It is always amazing to know that you multiply 2 times 2 for the number of questions. So in this case, it would be 2^10. There are a lot of ways to answer, considering there is only one right way! Hope these ideas help.
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