Mathematicians Are People Too

Fall 2013
11:15 – 12:15
Instructor: Debbie McDuffee

A fun study group for kids who love fascinating stories, and a unique way to approach both history and math. You don’t need to love arithmetic to embrace mathematical thinking and the significant contributions these mathematicians made to history.

In this study group, we’ll be gathering each week to read together a chapter from Luetta and Wilbert Reimer’s book, Mathematicians Are People Too: Stories from the Lives of Great Mathematicians, and do a project extending what we’ve read. Some of our sessions may include:

  • reading about John Napier and building our own Napier’s Rods (like a mechanical calculator);
  • reconstructing the way Thales used ratio to measure the height of the Cheops Pyramid;
  • building a model of how Archimedes figured out how to get the ship Syracosia into the water when King Hieron built it too big;
  • showing how white light can be broken down into colors using a prism, like Sir Issac Newton did;
  • adding up all the numbers between 1-100 using Carl Friedrich Gauss’s strategy … and more.

It’s the project-based way to explore the human side of math — jump in with us!

Designed for children approximately ages 9 and up and/or children who can:

  • listen quietly and discuss the read-aloud for 15 minutes
  • follow directions
  • work in a pair or a small group
  • understand and make connections based on the mathematical and scientific concepts

Materials fee = $10 per child

Optional materials: buy the book (look on Abebooks,, Alibris or Amazon to get your best price)

Needed: 1 assistant teacher, 1 helper from the cleanup committee during the last five minutes of class