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Exploring the World of Mathematics: From Ancient Record Keeping to the Latest Advances in Computers (Exploring (New Leaf Press)) Paperback – July 1, 2004
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A book that helps you understand math and have fun while you are doing it. --Joanna Swift, Production Secretary, 7/19/2004
About the Author
John Hudson Tiner received five National Science Foundation teaching fellowships during his 12 years of teaching science and mathematics. He is a graduate of chemistry at the College of the Holy Cross (Massachusetts), graduate of astronomy at Sam Houston State University (Texas), and a graduate of mathematics at Duke University (NC). He also worked as a mathematician and cartographer for the Defense Mapping Agency, Aerospace Center (St. Louis).
Today, Tiner is a full-time writer. His popular non-fiction books tell their stories through the lives of people who left the world in a better condition than they found it. He says, “After the research is finished, a wonderful moment occurs when the story takes over and the characters come alive. No longer am I a writer, but a time traveler who stands unobserved in the shadows and reports the events as they occur.”
He has received numerous honors for his writing, including the Missouri Writer’s Guild award for best juvenile book for Exploring the World of Chemistry, which was also published by Master Books.
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Top Customer Reviews
The text was engaging and easy to understand. Much of the book was suitable for middle schoolers, though some chapters were more high school level. There were useful black and white charts and illustrations. At the end of each chapter, there were 10 questions--most tested if you learned the important points in the chapter, but some were math problems based on what was learned. The answers were in the back.
The book occasionally referred to things in the Bible, like explaining the cubit as an ancient measurement of length. The author had math start with the ancient Egyptians (since, according to him, it wasn't needed before then because people were roaming herders). It also referred to a Sumerian counting system that started back in 3300 B.C.
Overall, the book was interesting and well-written. I'd recommend it to those interested in an overview of the development of mathematics or to those desiring to teach their children math in an interesting way.
Chapter 1 talked about ancient calendars (how days, months, and years were calculated in various cultures) and how the modern calendar was developed. Chapter 2 talked about marking the passage of time (including how & why people started counting hours, minutes, and seconds). Chapter 3 talked about the development of weights and measures from ancient ones to modern non-metric systems. Chapter 4 talked about the development of the metric system (mostly weight, length, capacity, and temperature).
Chapter 5 talked about how ancient Egyptians used basic geometry to build pyramids and survey farm land. Chapter 6 talked about how ancient Greeks continued to develop mathematics. Chapter 7 talked about the different systems and symbols for numbers in various cultures and times. Chapter 8 talked about number patterns (like odd, even, prime, Fibonacci numbers, square numbers, and triangular numbers).
Chapter 9 talked about mathematical proofs, decimal points, fractions, negative numbers, irrational numbers, and never-ending numbers. Chapter 10 talked about algebra and analytical geometry. Chapter 11 talked about network design, combinations & permutations, factorials, Pascal's triangle, and probability. Chapter 12 talked about the development of counting machines, from early mechanical calculators to modern digital calculators. Chapter 13 talked about the development of modern computers. Chapter 14 gave some math tricks and puzzles.
I suggest that sometime during your child's 5th-8th grade years, you go through each chapter with him - maybe as a summer course or one day a week on Friday. Most kids will like the book, too, as it teaches them how to solve logic problems that can fool their friends! Like this one: Have your friend secretly choose a number from one to ten. Tell him to add six to the number, double the results, and divide his answer by four. Next subtract half of the original number. When he is done, you can tell him what his number is 100% of the time. You'll have to read the book to find out how!
Thank you for allowing me to elaborate on this book.
Some of the topics I especially enjoyed were:
The history of the calendar and seasons. Here, the author explores the mathematics behind our calendar. Almost everyone knows about the Gregorian and the Julian calendar, but did you know that the math that is required to set us on the right track with our current calendar is still just a little bit off? I didn't, but in a couple hundred years we will have to adjust it or our days won't line up!
The largeness of numbers. Kids (and adults!) are always fascinated by this one. Wondering what the largest number is? It's a googolplexian! It is the number one followed by a googolplex of zeros. Of course, also included in the section is who and how this name came to be!
Great historical math geniuses, including Archimedes, Galileo, Kepler, Newton etc., are covered in detail and many of the problems that they solved or attempted to solve were included. Throughout the book, puzzles such as magic cubes and the seven Königsberg bridges are detailed out and students will very much enjoy looking through the formulas and attempting to solve these famous puzzles themselves.
John Tiner Hudson has created a fantastic resource for parents. This is THE perfect supplemental material. He has managed to create a fantastic read that is easy enough for a fifth grader to understand, but with enough data for a middle or high school student to benefit from. The author has further aided the usability of the book by including text problems at the end of the chapter as well as working through problems "real time" right in the text for the student. I would say most of the actual problems would be intended for a the higher end of student, but a fifth or sixth grader could probably manage with some help. A younger student could certainly read the text and treat the questions as optional. The chapters are short, but detailed, the problems and data is presented in an interesting way. In short, I highly recommend this book.
*Thanks to Master Books for providing a complimentary copy in exchange for my honest review.