Go Ask Mom

Go Ask Mom

Children's book author, who makes middle school math fun, comes to Triangle

Posted April 20, 2012

Sean Connolly, an award-winning children's book author who aims to make math fun, will have two stops in the Triangle this week as part of the N.C. Science Festival.

Connolly's "The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math: 24 Death-Defying Challenges for Young Mathematicians" infuses middle school math with things like zombies, shipwrecks, vampires, and treasure hunters.

So a standard math problem like "if car A is traveling west at 10 miles per hour, and car B is traveling east at 30 miles per hour" turns into something like this where math is the key to survival:

"Let’s say a vampire has moved onto your block, and every month he feeds on two people in your town, turning them into vampires. One month later, he and each of the new vampires are capable of turning two more people into vampires — a pattern that continues until some brave individual intervenes. Approximately how many months will it take for your 500,000-person town to become populated entirely by blood-sucking fiends if they’re not stopped?"

The book takes readers (and their parents) through each step of the problem. Each problem is followed by a related activity designed to bring the math to life.

Connolly, who is on a national book tour, will make two appearances in the Triangle next week.

He'll be at Flyleaf Books in Chapel Hill from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m., Monday.

And he'll stop at Quail Ridge Books & Music in Raleigh at 4:30 p.m., Tuesday.


Please with your account to comment on this story. You also will need a Facebook account to comment.

Oldest First
View all
  • cburkhard Apr 21, 2012

    Fair point couponwife. I don't mind the use of vampires and zombies to teach math (I have a 3rd grader) but some of the lanuage in those other problems ('dinking blood in ecstasy"?? really?) seemed a bit over the top. Seems like this author's problems would be more to my liking- using the culturally relevant characters, but not in such gory/over the top ways...may have to go check out his book.

  • couponwife Apr 20, 2012

    Here is the story about the teacher who was fired. I don't know if I'd defend use of ALL of the problems that the teacher allegedly assigned, but I don't understand why we celebrate "culturally relevant" instruction in one breath, and fire teachers in another breath, for using fiction to get kids to realize math in terms familiar to them.

  • couponwife Apr 20, 2012

    If I remember correctly, there was a story on the news (about two weeks ago?) about a parent who reported a math problem about Zombies or blood-sucking fiends that attacked people and caused a lot of grief for that school teacher and school administration. So... let me get this straight. We want them to make math "fun" for the kids, so the teachers use topics that are of interest to them - kids love these kinds of fantasy / fiction ideas! Maybe WRAL should connect this POSITIVE story to the parent who had a complete over-reaction to instructionally and culturally relevant educational activities.