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Want to Be a Scientist? Read These Biographies

by Miriam Downey 5. January 2015 08:06

I recently had the opportunity to see two movie biographies of famous scientists. The Theory of Everything about Stephen Hawking, the physicist, and The Imitation Game about the inventor of the computer, Alan Turing. Both of these movies portray science and scientists in a realistic light and are appropriate for high school students. If you have seen the movies, you might be interested in these biographies:

Stephen Hawking: Breaking the Boundaries of Time and Space by John Bankston

Alan Turing: The Architect of the Computer Age by Ted Gottfried.

Fewer young people are going into science careers, even though many young people are extremely interested in science and mathematics. Statistics have shown that STEM careers (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) are being encouraged among young children, but that older students are opting for other career paths. Additionally, there are very few women beginning careers in the sciences. A recent article on the National Geographic website discusses the ways women are discouraged from pursuing careers in science. However, the trend seems to be changing as more careers in science are opening up. It is time again for young people to look to STEM for career choices.

This website has information about STEM careers.

This website has short biographies of famous scientists.

So, if you are really into science and mathematics and want to think about a career in the sciences, you need to get a realistic view of what such a career would look like. Reading biographies of scientists will be really valuable to you. Here are the names of several new biographies that might interest you. They are appropriate for grades 4-9 and will be available at your library or bookstore.

The Boy Who Loved Math: The Improbable Life of Paul Erdos by Deborah Heiligman. The story of a brilliant but unconventional mathematician.

Steve Jobs: The Man Who Thought Different by Karen Blumenthal. The biography shows the influence of Jobs on our current technological world.

Charles and Emma: The Darwins' Leap of Faith by Deborah Heiligman. The story of Charles Darwin through the context of his marriage.

Rosalind Franklin and the Structure of Life by Jane Polcovar. The life of the English chemist who helped with the discovery of DNA.

Up Close, Jane Goodall by Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen. An honest look at the famed biologist.

On a Beam of Light: A Story of Albert Einstein by Jennifer Berne. This picture book perfectly mirrors Einstein's endless search for answers.

Odd Boy Out: Young Albert Einstein by Don Brown. Another excellent book about Einstein.

Electric Ben: The Amazing Life and Times of Benjamin Franklin by Robert Byrd. Emphasizes Franklin's scientific discoveries.

Starry Messenger by Peter Sis. The story of the astronomer, Galileo.

 

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Blog | Libraries, Library Books | Math | Science

More Math Concepts

by Miriam Downey 29. October 2012 16:55

My mother was never very good in math, and she let us know that she couldn't help us with math when we were in school. Consequently, I thought that I wasn't very good in math either. When I became a teacher and had to teach math, I found out I was a lot better than I thought. I learned a good lesson about parenting. Help your children know that they can be successful.

The following books will help your children think they are very good at math. These books are fun and some of them don't even look like math books. You will be able to find these books at your local library or bookstore. A few may be available on Kindle or Nook.

Chance, Probability, Graphs and Data

Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs by Judi Barrett

The Day Jimmy's Boa Ate the Wash by Trinka Noble

Do You Wanna Be? Your Chance to Find Out about Probability by Jean Cushman

Graphs by Ed Catherall

Great Graph Contest by Loreen leedy

Jumanji by Chris Van Allsburg

Chrysanthemum by Kevin Henkes

Caps for Sale by Exphyr Slobodkin

Tiger Math: Learning to Graph from a Baby Tiger by Ann W. Nagda

Seven Blind Mice by Ed Young

Multiplication

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

Amanda Bean's Amazing Dream by Cindy Neuschwander

The Best of Times: Math Strategies that Multiply by Greg Tang

Can you count to a Googol? by Robert E. Wells

Spaghetti and Meatballs by Marilyn Burns

Division

Cheetah Math: Learning about Division from Baby Cheetahs by Ann W. Nagda

The Little MouseThe Red Ripe Strawberry and the Big Hungry Bear by Audrey Wood

The Pigeon finds a Hot Dog by Mo Willems

A Remainder of One by Elinor J. Pinczes

Fractions

Fraction Fun by David Adler

Full House: An Invitation to Fractions by Dayle A. Dodds

Measurement

Anno's Math Games by Mitsumasa Anno

The Best Kind of Gift by Kathi Appelt

Biggest, Strongest, Fastest by Steve Jenkins

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

How Long or How Wide? A Measuring Guide by Brian Cleary

Inch by Inch by Leo Lionni

 Have Fun Measuring and Learning Math!

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Blog | Math

Teaching Math Concepts

by Miriam Downey 16. October 2012 12:15

Shapes

A square was sitting quietly

Outside his rectangular shack

When  a triangle came down--kerplunk!--

"I must go to the hospital,"

Cried the wounded square.

So a passing rolling circle

Picked him up and took him there.

Shel Silverstein in A Light in the Attic

There are many ways to teach math concepts, and math lessons don't necessarily have to be boring. Think about this poem by Shel Silverstein and what it teaches. What would this poem look like in pictures? Tell the story in a comic strip. Draw a square. Draw a rectangle. Can you find some triangles in this room? Some circles?

The National Research Council recently released a report suggesting that a child should begin learning about numbers, spatial thinking, and measurement at a very early age. I would suggest that intuitive math learning can begin and go on at any age. One of the reasons that I liked geometry in high school was that I was better at spatial thinking than I was at abstract algebraic equations. I think that if I had been taught to think mathematically, algebra would have been easier for me.

I happened upon a list of some favorite picture books that encourage mathematical thinking at many ages, but particularly for preschool and elementary school children. A book such as Each Orange Had Eight Slices by Paul Giganti Jr. can be used with a preschooler as a counting book and a third grader for a unit on fractions. Young children love How Much is a Million? by David Schwartz to teach really big thinking as much as a first or second grader will love it because they love really big numbers. And everybody loves Math Curse by Jon Sciezka, Thunder Cake by Patricia Polacco, and The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins.

A few of the following books are available online, some are available in video on YouTube, but all will be available at your local library. They are arranged by mathematical concept. Many thanks to a middle school librarian on a wiki website from Blytheville, Arkansas for this list.

 

This blog posting will consider the basic math concepts of counting, addition and subtraction. The next posting will include books that are about higher level math concepts.

Counting

100 Monsters from My School  by Bonnie Bader

 Animal 1 2 3!  by J. Douglas Lee

Bears on Wheels by Stan & Jan Berenstain

Chicken Little Count to Ten by Margaret Friskey

Click, Clack, Splish, Splash: a Counting Adventure by Doreen Cronin

Count and See by Tana Hoban

Counting on Frank by Rod Clement

 A Dozen Dogs by Harriet Ziefert

Each Orange had 8 Slices by Paul Giganti, Jr.

The Handmade Counting Book by Laura Rankin

Mouse Count! by Felicia Law

Too Many Balloons by Catherine Matthias

Addition

365 Penguins by Jean-Luc Fromental

The 500 Hats of Bartholomew Cubbins by Dr. Seuss

Addition Annie by David Gisler

Blueberries for Sal  by Robert McCloskey

Imogene's Antlers by David Small

Math Potatoes by Greg Tang

The Mission of Addition by Brian Cleary

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle

Subtraction

The Action of Subtraction by Brian Cleary

Blueberries for Sal by Robert McCloskey

Hershey Kisses Subtraction Book by Jerry Pallotta

The Rainbow Fish by Marcus Pfister

Happy Reading! Happy counting, and adding, and subtracting!

 

 

 

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Blog | Math

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