I stumbled across an extraordinary children's book at our local library (for a town of 600, we somehow manage to have a great library). The book, though published in 1995, is still available new on Amazon. Called Math Curse, it was written by John Scieszca, and answers that fundamental question, when will I ever use this stuff?
It may be a children's book, but I couldn't help but start explaining the significance of the math teacher's name in the book to my wife. Unfortunately, she doesn't share my love of mathematics, but how can you go wrong with a book that includes a teacher named Mrs. Fibonacci? My 5-year old thought the Fibonacci numbers associated with plants and flowers were cool (he's just getting addition down), so I guess I'll let the wife go until next week for a little talk about the Golden Ratio.
The book is called Math Curse because Mrs. Fibonacci begins class Monday morning with the words,
You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.
Suddenly, the main character is seeing math everywhere in her daily life and adding it (no pun intended) where it might not have been obvious. For the reader, especially a teacher reading it to an elementary or low-level math class, every page includes problems or discussion topics embedded in the story. When the character gets up for school on Tuesday, she
"...[takes] the milk out for her cereal and wonders
- How many quarts in a gallon?
- How many pints in a quart?
- How many inches in a foot?...
The questions go on, but ultimately she decides not to even take out the cereal for fear of calculating how many flakes would enter her bowl.
Math Curse is just plain fun, maybe because I'm a big geek, but also because it actually managed to interest both my 5-year old and my 15-year old who happened to be listening during storytime tonight. It didn't cut it for my wife, but maybe I can get her interested in the sequel, Science Verse.