Thursday, April 19, 2012

STEM Friday: The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math

The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math
written by Sean Connolly
2012 (Workman Publishing)
Source: Review copy provided by the publisher

Check out STEM Friday for other science and math links

Some people are not fans of math and might say "I wouldn't do math problems if my life depended on it." If this is you, then you might want to pass on this book. On the other hand, if you are fearless with a love of math, you need to find a copy of The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math. There are 24 challenges for the not faint-of-heart to tackle. Each challenge starts with a narrative that explains the danger that lurks. The first challenge, The Pit and the Pendulum, involves the reader tied to a table with a pendulum swinging a blade 15 inches above their head. There are variables working against you and for you. In this case, a rope chewing rat is your best friend. To help you solve each challenge, a cartoon Euclid provides advice and a piece of graph paper is available for problem solving. The solution is provided in the form of a flow chart and a cool hands-on lab activity ends each section. At the end of the first challenge, readers will learn how to create a pendulum using string and a key. I appreciate the scaffolding provided in each challenge. This helps the reader work through the challenge without losing too much independence.

This perilous book would be a treat for the student who easily masters their grade level math assignments. You could also present one challenge per week for the whole class. It could be a Friday activity that excites students or part of a math menu that students can choose from. The Brain Benders presented throughout the book can also be used in this manner. These are stand alone activities that add to the fun of the book. Sean Connolly has created a package of math, science, and humor that will be appreciated by math lovers everywhere.

Sean Connolly will be in my neck of the woods next week. He's visiting FlyLeaf Books in Chapel Hill on Monday and Quail Ridge Books in Raleigh on Tuesday if you happen to be in the neighborhood. Get your math on and go see him if you get the chance.

*** Note to STEM Friday followers: I'm having trouble using WordPress to post on the STEM Friday blog. I'll try later today to do this.Update: Problem is solved. Go to STEM Friday blog to see other science and math links.


  1. Hi Jeff,
    This sounds like a fun book - especially for those of us who were math-phobic in school (but have since then embraced it as just another language...)
    Over at Archimedes Notebook I'm reviewing "A Warmer World: From Polar Bears to Butterflies, How Climate Change Affects Wildlife" and interview with author Caroline Arnold.


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