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The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way Hardcover – November 17, 2004

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Editorial Reviews

From School Library Journal

Starred Review. Grade 8 Up–In this first book in a projected series of six, Hakim has interwoven creation myths, history, physics, and mathematics to present a seamless, multifaceted view of the foundation of modern science. The acknowledgments page reads like a Who's Who of the academic physics world, thanking the many researchers and experts who provided fact checking and advice. The entire volume is beautifully organized and the multidisciplinary approach to science is immediately apparent from the table of contents. Chapter headings contain subheadings prefaced by an image that indicates the focus of the chapter–science, math, language arts, technology and engineering, geography, or philosophy. Full-color photos and illustrations appear throughout; quotes and sidebars offer related information. The text never suffers from oversimplification and the writing holds its own with the many compelling visuals. Only a slight amount of fictionalization is evident with the author occasionally suggesting the possible thoughts of ancient groups pondering the mysteries of the universe. At its essence, the book displays the most appealing aspect of science and mathematics: that advances result from a practical need solved by curious minds.–Courtney Lewis, Wyoming Seminary College Preparatory School, Kingston, PA
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Gr. 5-8. Hakim opens the new Story of Science series with a book guaranteed to kick the history of science up a notch. Dividing the text into manageable sections with zingy titles ("Why Mars Is a Little Loopy"), she livens the writing with questions, asides, and changes of tense; recaps, restates, and refers back to important points; strews color illustrations with substantial captions thickly throughout; and sprinkles it all with fresh insights. Best of all, she respects the ability of young readers to absorb difficult ideas--whether that's early developments in physics, or the discovery and refinement of mathematics and geometry. She'll keep visual learners rapt, too, with lucid diagrams, photos, and art reproductions, and instead of drawn maps, she includes dramatic, lightly labeled satellite photos. Hakim does make a few bobbles (the Euclidian axiom "the whole is greater than the part" is incorrectly stated as "the whole is greater than the sum of its parts"), and her glances toward Asia and ancient Central America are too brief to change the Eurocentric focus. Still, this account of modern science's dawn, up to the revolution engendered by moveable type, presents a rare mix of visual appeal, intellectual content, and lively personal voice that will propel readers to the end and leave them impatient for more. John Peters
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 and up
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 950L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Story of Science
  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Smithsonian Books; First Edition edition (May 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1588341607
  • ISBN-13: 978-1588341600
  • Product Dimensions: 7.7 x 0.9 x 9.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.9 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (42 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #18,703 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

I started my career as an author with a ten-volume U.S. history: A History of US, published by Oxford University Press in 1993, and now in a third updated printing. I had no idea the history would end up in ten books, or that it would be so much fun to write. A History of US has been awarded a bunch of prizes. David McCullough commented, ". . .the idea that history might ever be thought of as a chore has clearly never crossed her mind." In testimony before the Senate Education Committee he called the series "superb." People Magazine described me as "the J.K. Rowling of the history world." (Umm, that would be nice. But the books have sold 5 million copies.)

Mine are narrative history books that attempt to set literary standards. I mean for them to be exciting to read. They're meant for young readers, and their teachers and parents, or for anyone without a deep background in U.S. history. These are books that can be found in bookstores, on Amazon, and in schools. Oxford and Hopkins have done teaching materials for those who want to use the books in academic study.

That series was followed by: Freedom: A History of US (published in 2003), the companion to a 16-part PBS series of the same name that was narrated by Katie Couric, with voices by a host of Hollywood figures, from Tom Hanks to Robin Williams. The videos are available to schools from PBS. And the book spawned a terrific website: (

I then turned to The Story of Science, a three-book series jointly published by Smithsonian Books and the NSTA (National Science Teachers Association). The series focuses on the quest to understand the universe--from ancient Greece to today's expanding universe. The first volume is Aristotle Leads the Way; the second, Newton at the Center; the third book, Einstein Adds A New Dimension, attempts to explain quantum theory and relativity with black holes and space travel too. Writing in the New York Times, Natalie Angier called the books, "richly informative." Alan Alda raved. These books have won prizes too. Science writer Timothy Ferris said he wished he had them when he was a boy. Educators at Johns Hopkins and NSTA have developing coordinated teaching materials for classroom use (available from NSTA or Amazon). Reading guru Lucy Calkins, of Teachers College, Columbia, has called my books the "gold standard" in the field.

I've just published my latest title, Reading Science Stories, which celebrates non-fiction reading through tales of some of history's greatest explorers.

And I'm currently working on two books that put biology into a narrative framework.

Before I began writing books, I was an associate editor, editorial writer, and business writer for The Virginian-Pilot (Norfolk's morning paper) and a general reporter and photographer on the staff of The Ledger-Star (Norfolk's afternoon paper. I did a whole lot of freelance writing while raising three kids. And I was an assistant editor of World News, a foreign news service at McGraw-Hill.

Writing and teaching seem to be two faces of the same need to explain things. Which may explain why I've had dual careers--as writer and teacher.

I've taught elementary school (Omaha, NE), high school English (Virginia Beach, VA), special education in a middle school (Syracuse, NY), and English composition and American literature at a community college (Virginia Beach). I initiated and taught a writing course for high school teachers of English through the University of Virginia.

I do a lot of speaking, especially to education groups. For three years I worked with a group of history teachers in Los Angeles under a TAH (Teaching American History) grant. I've spent some of my time in an inner-city school where most of the students speak Spanish at home and reading English doesn't come easily.

As to my schooling: I earned a B.A. from Smith College after high school in Rutland, Vermont. Then I received a M.Ed. and an honorary doctorate from Goucher College. Smith gave me the Smith Medal (2000); the Matrix Foundation, the Edith Workman Award (2003); I've taken graduate courses in journalism and in geography at New York University, child psychology at Johns Hopkins, and courses in American history and science at Brown, Harvard, Cornell, and Cambridge University. My website is: You can also connect with me on Twitter: @joyhakim_joy.

Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

124 of 129 people found the following review helpful By Cynthia E. Downes on March 19, 2009
Format: Hardcover
This curriculum takes students from 400 B.C. through the year 2000 by studying the lives, culture and work of famous scientists including Pythagoras, Archimedes, Aristotle, Newton, and Einstein. As the students progress through the series, they create a timeline of historical events and famous people related to their studies. The students create the timeline pieces from their own drawings and graphs.

Each lesson starts out with a lesson summary, a famous quote, goals (what the students will learn), a list of people that will be studied, terms and topics that will be studied, and timeline information. The lesson summary is an excellent explanation of what the students will learn and, unless you are well versed in the subject matter, essential to understanding the material.

This is NOT a self-teaching course. You will need the teachers' and students' guides to use this curriculum. The teachers' guides explain how to use the books and student guides. They provide a supply list, transparency masters, handouts, and quizzes. Suggestions for science fair projects are included in the teachers' guides, as well as enrichment activities that cover other topics (math, history, geography, language arts, drama, art and music).

The student guide includes fill-in charts, short answer, essay questions, and some diagrams. This is not an easy multiple choice/true false curriculum! Most students will be challenged because of the reasoning, lab activities and assessment methods used in the curriculum. For instance, in Aristotle Leads the Way, students have to compare the cosmology of Pythagoras and Aristotle. In Newton at the Center, students must identify which Law of Motion a particular scenario represents.
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52 of 52 people found the following review helpful By Science Goddess on February 6, 2009
Format: Hardcover
Length: 5:29 Mins
Hi, this is Joanne, a bioengineering instructor at the University of Illinois. I read science books and review them. See more at my youtube site [...]

If my brain is tired from reading all those high level science journals, I take a break and read about science in a fun, lighthearted but still informative way with Joy Hakim's The Story of Science Series. Great for educators and homeschoolers, too! Covers the basics of physical sciences thoroughly but at a middle to high school level.
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75 of 81 people found the following review helpful By Kristi Gilleland TOP 500 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on March 17, 2006
Format: Hardcover
When I began the homeschooling journey, I kept hearing about this wonderful set of United States history books by Joy Hakim. I know a lot of homeschoolers are very religious, and I really wanted secular, scientific educational materials. I was intrigued by the historical knowlege of these kids though, so I kept an open mind. I am so glad that I did.

That series is called The History of US. I found a cheap copy of the first book at a book sale, and thought I'd check it out. I was amazed at Joy Hakim's gift at story telling and approach to history. I found myself learning more than I EVER learned in school, OR in colllege US history for that matter. WOW. Not only was I learning and remembering it, I was loving it!

So it is no doubt that I RAN to the bookstore to order a copy of THIS new series, The Story of Science. I tore into it with the same enthusiasm that I have for new Harry Potter books, and new Anne Rice books- books I LOVE to read. That's the key to the big draw - Joy Hakim's writing is wonderfully entertaining.

Indeed, she has done it again! Older children and adults alike that love science will enjoy her unique approach to the material. The books have lavish illustrations and full cover photographs and graphics. She's included beautiful pictures by the great masters of art as well, recognizing that artists contributed much to science as we know it today.

This series is a journey through the history of man's thinking about science. Along the way, there's plenty of science to be learned, even for someone with a science degree, as well as mathmatical concepts and applications, all set against a backdrop of world history, and sprinkled with sparkling humor, which is a vital ingredient in making learning fun.
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45 of 53 people found the following review helpful By Eileen D. Vernon on October 12, 2004
Format: Hardcover
Joy Hakim has done it again! She has written a world history book through scientific discovery in a readable attractive form that makes this information available to everyone. I picked my copy up yesterday and can bearly put it down. And to think there are 5 more in this series to come, as a librarian I am shivering with excitement.

Eileen Vernon, Librarian

Virginia Beach Friends School (PreK-12)
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dege on November 26, 2008
Format: Hardcover
As a teacher and curriculum writer, I have to say that this is just a superb book from many, many angles. Joy Hakim is warm, compassionate, and passionately interested in her subject, and in making it attractive and accessible not only to younger readers but to adults as well. I should really say "subject(s)" because she weaves history, mythology, science, math, philosophy and religion together in a way that was fascinating enough to keep this long-in-the-tooth reader fully engrossed throughout.

I was more than a little surprised to find that her overall rating here was only 4 stars--how could anyone rate it as less than 5? I read some of the less positive reviews, though, and was able to see their point.

One 3-star review complained of anti-Christian bias and actually had some reasonable points to consider, most of which would be of interest mainly to those of a more fundamentalist slant--but also as a fruitful source of legitimate discussion for those of us who are religious, but not necessarily Christian or fundamentalist. I do get very tired of adolescent PC material that comes dripping with antagonism towards any and all religious belief. Personally, though, I found Ms. Hakim's text remarkably even-handed on the issue of faith vs. religion, and felt that she succeeded admirably in making the point that one does not preclude the other.

Then I read a 1-star review asserting that her 6th-grader complained that the text was confusing and difficult to follow.
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