Mathematics

SCI Book Recommendation–Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code


SCI Scale-Ups

     The Science Center of Iowa (SCI) set out to do ground-breaking work all across Iowa. If all students couldn’t get to the SCI, then the SCI would try to reach all students.
     To accomplish this, they created STEM curriculum for PreK-12 students: Pint-Size Science and Making STEM Connections. Both programs are part of the Iowa STEM Initiative’s Scale-Up Program, and both feature incredible books.
      We caught up with Jolie Pelds (pictured right), SCI’s Director of Innovative STEM Teaching. Pelds introduced us to the books featured in this year’s kits and her new favorite read–Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code written by Laurie Wallmark and illustrated by Katy Wu. When I asked Pelds why she liked it so much, she said “just look at the first page” (see it below).

Grace Hopper: Queen of Computer Code

“If you’ve got a good idea, and you know it’s going to work, go ahead and do it.”
–Grace Hopper
     Who was Grace Hopper? Even the end sheets tell the story: “Rule breaker. Chance taker. Troublemaker. AMAZING GRACE.” Beginning as an young girl interested in how everyday things worked, Hopper took things a part to learn more about them. Her parents encouraged her curiosity.
     At age seven, Hopper dismantled several clocks in her house to find out what made them tick. She finished high school two years early and then attended Vassar College. Dedicated to making a difference in the World War II effort, Hopper enlisted in the U.S. Navy and embarked on a lifelong military career writing computer programs.
    The book is full of delightful anecdotes. For example, after finding a moth trapped inside a navy computer, she coined the phrase computer bug.
“She didn’t wait for someone else to figure it out–she came up with solutions herself!”
–Jolie Pelds
     “It’s an awesome book,” said Pelds, “because she’s a rebel and a hacker in the way she thinks. She had the ability to take something difficult and make it easier. She didn’t wait for someone else to figure it out–she came up with solutions herself!”
     Hopper’s legacy lives on today. She revolutionized how we use computers, creating what would become COBOL, a common programming language that is still used around the world. Hopper served as a trailblazer for others, especially women, who wanted the challenge of solving difficult problems while defying expectations of the era.

Enter to WIN a CODE/STEM prize extravaganza! 

From Rosie Revere, Engineer to How to Code a Sand Castle to On a Beam of Light: the Story of Albert Einstein, do you have a favorite STEM picture book? If so, please send us an email with the 1.) title, 2.) author, and 3.) why you like it so much. All emails received will go into a drawing for a Code.org/STEM prize extravaganza!
  • Open: August 1, 2018
  • Deadline: all emails must be received on or before August 10, 2018
  • Email: lisa.morlock@drake.edu
  • Announcements: all prize recipients will be notified via email by August 12, 2018

Get This Book: What’s Math Got To Do With It?

The Hub asked Drake professor Dr. Maryanne Huey for ideas on working with young students on math confidence. She recommended the incredible resource: What’s Math Got To Do With It by Jo Boaler. Currently, Boaler is a professor of mathematics education at Stanford University. She also created a website called YouCubed and given TED Talks.

This is one of those rare, important books that every new parent and teacher should read. Boaler explains the importance of introducing math literacy at a young age. She identifies classrooms that consistently develop strong math students and how those teachers do it, and she looks at what parents can do to constantly enrich math at home.

Boaler cites a recent study in which the United States ranked 36 among 64 developed countries across the world. She says that when middle school students asked if they’d rather do math or eat broccoli, over half said they’d rather eat broccoli. While this is humorous, what’s not funny is that many students go into the world with insufficient math skills. The top paying, fastest-growing jobs in the world require employees with strong math skills. If you want a great career = learn math!

But the best part of the book, for me, involves the challenges interspersed through the book. Here are three to check out, but know all of her recommendations are awesome.

1. Page 16: Fibonacci’s Sequence

We loved showing the Golden Ratio, as it’s proof math is everywhere. From the spiral of a snail shell to the spin of hurricane to the way a flower bloom opens, evidence is everywhere! Here’s a website that helps explain this concept. You’ll never walk outside again without thinking about math.

2. Page 170: Tangrams

Introduce geometry in a fun way with tangrams. Preschool kids love the colors and older kids enjoy the puzzle challenge of the project. There’s a website that offers free, online tangrams for teachers and parents to use.

3. Page 211: Race to 20

This is a simple game two people can play in the car. In the game, two people race to reach 20, staring at 0 and using integrals of 1 or 2. While you’ll eventually realize the key to success, the game can be modified by changing the ending number or the integrals used.

Not everyone needs to major in life, but the problem-solving skills learned transfer to all of life’s situations.

In the last chapter, Boaler talks about math’s future: “Let’s move together from the mathematics trauma and dislike that has pervaded our society in recent years to a brighter mathematical future for all, charged with excitement, engagement and learning.”

Kids are born to love numbers. From the first time they hold up their pointer finger when asked their age, to figuring out how much candy they can buy with piggy bank savings. And it takes all of us to nurture their curiosity and ability. If you want to learn how, check out this book.

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