# Math Curse by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

Math Curse

by Jon Scieszka and Lane Smith

This entertaining picture book addresses a condition suffered by many kids and adults alike – math anxiety – specifically anxiety about word problems. Math Curse tells the story of a child who believes she has been put under a curse by her (his?) math teacher, Mrs. Fibonacci. One morning, Mrs. Fibonacci says, “You know, you can think of almost everything as a math problem.” The next day, everything our main character sees becomes a math problem. She can’t escape!

The imaginative dream-like illustrations and the silly “math problems” make this a fun read. My 8-year old son was laughing all the way home from the library and kept insisting on reading passages to me.  He asked that I include his favorite passage in this review:

“I try to get on the bus without thinking about anything, but there are 5 kids already on the bus, 5 kids get on at my stop, 5 more get on at the next stop, and 5 more get on at the last stop. True or False: What’s the bus driver’s name?”

You’re child won’t actually learn to do math problems from this book, but it introduces many math topics like  fractions, charts, base systems, and unit conversion. And, in the end, the main character overcomes her math phobia and is doing word problems like a champ.

# Girls Want a Rematch

Researchers at BYU found that while boys tend to do better in the first round of math competitions, girls do just as well or better than the boys in subsequent rounds. Maybe girls just need a little more time to get warmed up and comfortable. Most school math competitions consist of one round, but this study was based on the results at 24 elementary schools that changed the format of their math competitions to 5 rounds.

Read more at ScienceDaily: Gender Gap Disappears in School Math Competitions

# Paul Erdös

Yesterday would have been Paul Erdös’s 100th birthday. (It’s pronounced air-dish). Not only was Erdös an extremely prolific mathematician (he published over 1,500 papers), he was a fascinating and somewhat eccentric man. For the last few years of his life, he did not have a home; he travelled around and stayed with collaborators while working with them. He was a terrible houseguest, but his hosts were so honored to be working with him that they didn’t mind. Mathematicians sometimes refer to their Erdös number (sort of like a Kevin Bacon number for math). If you co-authored a paper with Erdös, you have an Erdös number of 1. If you co-authored a paper with someone who co-authored a paper with Erdös, you have an Erdös number of 2, and so on.