Not Your Parents’ Math and Science Books!

When I was in school, I always did well in science and math—and I even liked science.  I pretty much liked school in general.  However, the textbooks that we used didn’t really do much to make either subject fun.  Pages of charts, numbers, and definitions were quite intimidating.  And math, especially, did not seem very practical.

Here are three supplemental titles that just might help your students find the fun in math and science.

Think AgainThink Again! : False Facts Attacked and Myths Busted by Clive Gifford. 9780753470695. 2013. Gr 4-7.

Read these statements carefully—there will be a short quiz.

Most of your hair is on your head.

You use only 10% of your brain.

Mammals give birth to live young.

Snakes cannot slink backward.

Mount Everest is the highest point on Earth.

Only one of these statements is true; do you know which one?  The answer is at the bottom of this post. The rest are all wrong…or at least, sometimes wrong.

Readers will learn how and why some of our favorite falsehoods and myths and misconceptions have become known as gospel truth.  This book covers more than just science—it also includes all the wrong things you know about history and geography and art and sports.

We've got your numberWe’ve Got Your Number : Why Everything in the Universe Is Numbers…Including You by Mukul Patel. 9780753470725. 2013. 6-9.

If, as Galileo said, “Everything in the universe is written in the language of mathematics,” then I’m in trouble.  Math is not my first language, and since I’ve been out of school, I haven’t spoken it much.  But he’s right.  Math is all around us.

Whether you want to do a Boolean search on your computer, or check the time, or figure out the batting average of your favorite player, you need math.   If you want to design a tall building, or compose music, or hang wallpaper, or find the shortest way to get all your errands done after work, you need math.   Math is necessary to understand topology, population models, statistics, planetary orbits, gene theory, voting patterns, and insurance.  The clear explanations, interesting examples and fact boxes, and fun illustrations make learning about math…well, much less confusing.

Though we’ve leveled this for middle school, it could be used in high school…and beyond.

Cartoon introduction to statisticsThe Cartoon Introduction to Statistics by Grady Klein & Alan Dabney. 9780809033669. Gr 9-Adult.

Statistics are scary—in fact, statistics was the only math class I didn’t dare to take in high school.  But cartoons are fun!

So an award-winning professor of statistics and a cartoonist have combined forces to provide an in-depth, authoritative, and hilarious introduction to statistics.  Grady Klein’s Vikings, giants, and aliens give understandable and funny answers to Alan Dabney’s explanations of concepts like random sampling, standard deviation, calculating probability, making inferences, and understanding statistical confidence.

This book could be used for middle school math lovers.  And for those who want to go beyond the basics, the authors have included an appendix called the “Math Cave” which will help you learn to talk and write like a statistician.

Answer to Think Again! quiz : Snakes cannot slink backward.

TraceyBlogger : Tracey L.