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Maria Salvadore

Reading Rockets' children's literature expert, Maria Salvadore, brings you into her world as she explores the best ways to use kids' books both inside — and outside — of the classroom.

Fun with science and math IS possible

April 27, 2012

All too often, children hear the word math and they freeze. It just can't have pleasure associated with it nor can it possibly have anything to do real life.

Math really is everywhere but like the narrator in Jon Scieszka's funny and slightly offbeat Math Curse (Viking), fear of it can be a serious affliction. It can even impact how children perceive and school success — and eventually their career choices.

Well, this weekend in Washington, DC, there's a free event, the USA Science & Engineering Festival, devoted to engaging children and adults in the excitement and possibilities in these subjects.

There will be lots of authors talking about their books including Sean Connolly who's written The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math (Workman).

Even those who suffer from a serious math aversion will appreciate the approach of this book. It presents outrageous stories which can be solved by math. It was the step-by-step explanations that helped me understand some principles that had left me in the dark for what has been a long, long time.

Whether or not children understand all of math concepts presented doesn't seem to me as important as the pleasure presented in trying to figure out (as the book's cover declares) "24 death-defying challenges" and the fun of their fantastic, humorous stories with comic illustrations. It's a multi-pronged approach that seems likely to engage the most reluctant young mathematician.

Putting some pleasure back into science and math not only makes STEM education more fun but just may present chances for families to find positive new — and important — shared experiences.

Yuo might also want to check out Reading Rockets' Literacy in the Sciences tip sheets for parents (in English and Spanish).

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