Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Fun with Figures

Fun with Figures
Mae and Ira Freeman ~ Random House, 1946


I've mentioned before that with my son getting older, I've been paying attention to math and science books more. Thus how this little bit of awesome came into our lives. Written by the folks behind my husband's favorite book as a youth, I can only imagine the sort of child who might fall in love with a book like this. With chapter names like "Objects with Many Faces", "The Thread of a Screw", "How to Draw an Ellipse" and "Lines that Never Meet", it sounds wildly fascinating to me, but will my son love it someday? Who knows.

The "Figures" referred to in the title of this book are triangles, squares, circles and other shapes drawn and used in geometry. This science was used in Egypt at least five thousand years ago to measure land flooded by the River Nile, and the name geometry comes from Greek words meaning "earth-measuring."

Only as an adult am I able to look at these pages and appreciate their meaning. See, I took pre-algebra in the eighth grade. And when I transfered into high school, the counselor mistook it on my transcripts for Algebra 1, and when I went to correct her, my well-meaning mother stopped me and whispered under her breath. "No, no... it means you get out of having to do another year of Algebra." Well, it also means I was thrown into Geometry and then Algebra 2 without the basic skills necessary to, um... how do you say it... not fail. Thus, a legacy of being always lost and confused in the ways of high school math was born.

My son shall not suffer the same fate.

The boy pictured throughout is identified as 15-year-old Robert Delasso from Princeton, New Jersey. Again, I can only imagine what this child went on to do as an adult, but I'll bet his life was filled with places of higher learning like MIT and pipe smoking and strategic thinking and concepts and bridge building and architecture and engineering. Unlike me, a theater school dropout. I stink at math because my artist mother told me from the moment I popped out of the womb that I was no good at it. Maybe I could have been great at it if I'd had this book tucked under my wing. (It and its companion titles: Fun with Science, Fun with Astronomy and Fun with Chemistry). Again, who knows. What I do know, for a fact, is that figures are fun, no matter what your momma tells you.

Anyone care to guess what tonight's bedtime story will be?

Also by:
You Will Go To The Moon

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4 comments:

ahoi! said...

Woah! Those photos are incredible. Thanks.

B. Streetman said...

ahoi... you are the main reason I even picked this book up when I saw it at a library sale... i don't know that i would have appreciated it as much had it not been for reading your blog...

farrarwilliams said...

Thanks for this. It's just lovely. I love all those old math and science books - so many of them are better and more in depth than the ones of today. I'll have to seek this one out, I didn't know it!

Frugal Fan said...

Actually taking a look at one of the scans (the line with Point A that finds Points B and C by constructing a circle with Point A as the center thereby cutting the given line at equal radii ending in Points B and C hence the slightly curved lines denoting them), it looks like a nice introduction to Euclid's Geometry! If I remember correctly, it is illustrating one of the first propositions. As a student who has gone through Euclid, I cannot say enough how valuable the experience of going through the propositions is.

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