Thursday, August 07, 2008

Kiss My Math

Actress (and math major) Danica McKellar has a new book about math targeted to girls: Kiss My Math: showing Pre-Algebra Who's Boss. Based on the book's description, it's definitely got a girly vibe:

Stepping up not only the math, but also the sass and style, Kiss My Math will help math-phobic teenagers everywhere chill out about math, and finally “get” negative numbers, variables, absolute values, exponents, and more. Each chapter features:

• Step-by-step instruction
• Time-saving tips and tricks
• Illuminating practice problems with detailed solutions
• Real-world examples
• True stories from Danica’s own life as a student and actress

Kiss My Math also includes more fun extras--including personality quizzes, reader polls, and real-life testimonials-- ultimately revealing why pre-Algebra is easier, more relevant, and more glamorous than girls think.
Even though I don't remember finding pre-algebra particularly daunting, I sure don't remember it being glamorous either. It's hard to remember exactly what my Junior High School-self was like, but I was definitely shy and self-conscious. I suspect that adding personal quizes and boyfriend talk (*blush* *blush* would have been my response to that) would have made math class a bit uncomfortable and less appealing to me. But obviously, not every girl is like that. As Veronica at Viva La Feminista points out:
While I didn't quite like the concept of teaching "girl" math, there is a real need to make science, math & engineering more girl-friendly. Even I, the math nerd I am, zoned out each time we had to do a problem about shooting two bullets or when two rockets would meet. I'd rather spend time trying to figure out how long it would take a fish to outswim a predator. McKellar is sticking to her girly examples and well, I have to admit, I bet it works.
I like the idea of a making math more appealing to girls, as long as there is no assumption that this is an approach that would necessarily turn on every girl to the glamorous world of pre-algebra.

Here is some video of Danica McKellar talking about girls and math:
And if you have read the book and want to talk about the math problems, math in general, or "beauty and brains", check out McKellar's forum at

ETA: McKellar was interviewed by Ira Flatow on this week's Science Friday show.

(via Zuska)

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