CM . . .
. Volume XXI Number 24 . . . . February 27, 2015
Mathematics seems to be a subject that people of all ages either enjoy or dislike. The “Go Figure!” series presents many math topics in a simple and colourful way that is connected to real world situations to help with those in the second category. Each book is laid out as a journey with a number of missions. Each mission has a math concept at its centre and a ‘Go Figure’ area with some questions about the math idea. Answers to all the questions are at the back of the book along with a glossary of the terms used. The final page has websites where further information can be found and an index. All of these features make these genuine math reference works for young people.
As indicated in the titles, the approach is cross-curricular, with each book including other areas of study such as science/physics, biology/physiology, geology or the environment. The page layout varies somewhat but is always colourful with the explanations on the left and the quiz on the right page. There are often related photographs to entice readers to the topic. The range of topics is wide and interesting, including eating and breathing, tigers and ants, geysers and fossils and journeys to the Moon and Mars. There is something here for every student to enjoy. The math topics are also varied including the basics, geometry, working with time, graphs and charts.
The appealing photographs of animals scattered throughout A Math Journey Through the Animal Kingdom should make the math more inviting. Ants are used to show addition and subtraction, snakes are used for symmetry, sea turtles illustrate polygons and tigers are tracked using a quadrant system. The connections are well thought out, and each mission is interesting and realistic. All should captivate children.
In A Math Journey Through the Human Body, the human body is used to illustrate bar graphs of what we eat, percents are shown relating to breathing, and fractions are tied to skin. The connections between the math topic and the human body are more tenuous than those in the other books. The graphics, however, are still dramatic, appropriate and interesting. The concepts discussed are germane, well presented and in line with the topics that students see in their classes.
There are few photographs in A Math Journey Through Planet Earth although the graphics are clear and informative, especially those for mission 11 on plane and solid shapes. Geometry is a topic presented several times in the series, and these pictures are particularly apropos. Fossils are used to discuss money and price, gems introduce Roman numerals and world maps are used to explore time.
Possibly the most exciting of the books, A Math Journey Through Space includes photographs of the space shuttle and astronauts, always a winner with students. The math topics run from the basics like rounding numbers and working with decimals to angles and determining what numbers are larger to patterns in numbers and probability. The cover picture is enticing, the information shown is a great teaser for the subjects inside.
The broad range of approaches used in the “Go Figure!” series is engaging and useful for drawing in readers. It is great that a series of books like this has been created to help make math more approachable. Crabtree Publishing Company has made a great addition to reference collections for math. Any book that could help interest students in math is welcome, especially when presented with such flair. Connecting subjects is also both appropriate and useful in catching the interest of students drawn to other subject areas.
Although many math topics are presented, students will still have to have access to textbooks and teaching on the subject. The explanations are clear but limited to only one page plus the quiz, with questions at an equal level, not enough for anyone to learn a concept. While these books can smooth the path, students will still have to work to grasp the concept. The math topics covered are scattered throughout the four books with little regard for the difficulty of the idea involved. Finally, the table of contents indicates the situation used to illustrate the concept, but the math ideas only appear in the index, making it more difficult for students to find the book that covers the areas they want to study.
Overall, however, this series is good addition for a school library.
A Math Journey Through the Animal Kingdom. Highly Recommended.
Willow Moonbeam is a librarian and college math professor living in Toronto, ON, who has many interests and loves learning new things.
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Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any
other reproduction is prohibited without permission.
Copyright © the Manitoba Library Association. Reproduction for personal use is permitted only if this copyright notice is maintained. Any other reproduction is prohibited without permission.