Science Curriculum-Instruction-Assessment that includes historical vignettes & case studies, humor, discrepant event demonstrations, real-world applications (including mathematics) and STS issues/controversies sends a message that science should be considered a “FUNdaMENTAL humanity.” That is, science has been and continues to be a very human endeavor carried out by an ethnically, politically, and personally diverse group of individuals united by a common “need to know &/or create” drive. If presented this way, science invites students to participate in the ongoing process by opening their minds and increasing their motivation to do the “hard work” necessary to be involved in the “game of scientific play.” The following references can help you show your students that science is a human adventure worth pursuing as either a vocation or avocation and “a” useful lens through which to view both human history and the natural world. For an extensive listing of live links to Internet resources on these same topics, go to the Binghamton University, SEHD, Center for Science, Mathematics and Technology Education website:


Mathematics in the Sciences & “Real World”

Block, J. Richard & Yuker, Harold E. (1989) Can You Believe Your Eyes? NY: Gardner Press. 250pp collection of over 250 illusions & other visual oddities with detailed explanations. Many of the illusions are useful for teaching metric measurement in a fun way. See also book by Kay.

Blocksma, Mary. (1989). Reading the Numbers: A Survival Guide to the Measurements, Numbers, and Sizes Encountered in Everyday Life. (224pp). NY: Viking Penguin. 224pp presents the answers to many questions about numbers, from age to zip codes, in a handy alphabetized format. Over 100 areas are discussed. See also, with Lewis Kahn: Uncle John Presents Necessary Numbers: An Everyday Guide to Size, Measures and More. (2002). Portable Press. 258pp.

Burton, Richard F. (1998). Biology by Numbers: An Encouragement of Quantitative Thinking. Cambridge Univ. Press. 254pp; this textbook is both an introduction to quantitative biology and a guide for the number-shy; fosters a sense of the fundamental importance and usefulness of mathematical principles in biology, with a fascinating range of examples. The book is geared towards the non-mathematician, and covers the basics as well as various more advanced topics from many diverse biological disciplines. See also books by Brown & West and Schmidt-Nielson

Brown, James H., West, Geoffrey B. (ed). (2000). Scaling in Biology. Oxford Univ. Press. 352pp; a collection of 17 groundbreaking scientific papers on the geometric, physical & biological constraints & opportunities that 21 order of magnitudes of life forms on earth.

Diagram Group. (1980). The Book of Comparisons of distance, size, area, volume, mass, weight, density, energy, temperature, time, speed and number throughout the universe. Sidgwick & Jackson in association with Penguin. 240pp of fascinating numerical comparisons about the universe.

Eigen, Manfred & Winkler, Ruthild. (1981). Laws of the Game: How the Principles of Nature Govern Chance. (347pp illustrate how probability & number theory underlie both classical games and nature). NY: Harper & Row.

Gardner, Martin. (1978). Aha! Insight (179pp of combinatorial, geometric, numerical, logical, procedural, & verbal brain-twisters -- see also the set of six aha! Insight Box sound filmstrips produced by Bob Tappay). See also: (1982).Aha! Gotcha. NY: Scientific American/W.H. Freeman. Author has written numerous other science, math, & logic/puzzle books for upper elementary-high school students & is the author of the Mathematical Games column of Scientific American.

Hildebrandt, Stefan & Tromba, Anthony. (1996). The Parsimonious Universe: Shape and Form in the Natural World. Copernicus Books. Two mathematicians examine the mathematical elegance & laws that underlie the symmetry & regularity found in nature (principles of the economy of means). 330pp; includes numerous color and b&w photos and illustrations.

Huff, Darrell & Geis, Irving (illust). (1954). How to Lie with Statistics. (142pp). See also: (1959). How to Take a Chance. (173pp of everyday applications of probability theory). NY: W.W. Norton.

Hughes, Martin (Dr./ed.). (1989). Body Clock: The effects of time on human health. (191pp full-color text on growth, development & maturation of humans including statistical facts). NY: Facts on File.

Kay, Keith. (1997) Little Giant Book of Optical Illusions. Sterling Publications. ~ 300 one page , B&W illusions with non-numerical "answers" in the back of the book. Great for fun examples for teaching metric measurement. See also book by Block.

McGowen, Chris. (1994). Diatoms to Dinosaurs: The Size and Scale of Living Things. Washington, DC: Island Press/Shearwater Press. 288pp; a paleontologist/zoologist explores the concept of biological scale.

Morrison, P. & Morrison, P., & the Office of Charles & Ray Eames. (1994). Powers of Ten: About the relative size of things in the universe. NY: Scientific American Library/W.H. Freeman Co. See also: Astronomical Society of the Pacific Catalog. Powers of Ten CD-ROM (for Mac & Windows/ST 162/$79.95), videotape (VT 110/$39.95), book (BO 182/$19.95 ),and flipbook (BO 183/$9.95). A survey of matter from the smallest to the largest over 43 orders of magnitude

Neill, William (photo.) & Murphy, Pat (text). (1993). By Nature's Design: An Exploratorium Book. San Francisco: Chronicle Books. Captivating photos & fascinating text reveal the often surprising order, economy, elegance & beauty of nature's diverse abiotic & biotic forms.

Packard, E. (1994). Imagining the Universe : A Visual Journey. NY: Perigee Books. One of the best books on the concept of scale in the universe in terms of great visual analogies.

Paulos, John Allen. (1999). Once Upon a Number: The Hidden Mathematical Logic of Stories. Perseus Books. 214 pp bridge the world of literary stories and numbers. (1996). A Mathematician Reads the Newspaper. Anchor. 224pp reveal the hidden mathematical angles in countless media stories. (1991). Beyond Numeracy: Ruminations of a Numbers Man. NY: Vintage Books/Random House. 285pp covering 60+ classic and new math topics with applications to daily life. (1988) . Innumeracy: Mathematical Illiteracy and Its Consequences. . NY: Hill & Wang/Farrar, Straus, & Giroux. 135pp with examples of role of math in everyday life. (1980/2000). Mathematics and Humor: A Study of the Logic of Humor. Univ. of Chicago Press. 124pp deal with Jokes, paradoxes, riddles, and the art of non-sequitur.

Poundstone, William. (1988). Labrinths of Reason: Paradox, Puzzles, and the Frailty of Knowledge. NY: Bantam Doubleday Dell. 274pp of classical & new arguments in logic, math, & science.

Schmidt-Nielson, Knut. (1984). Scaling: Why is Animal Size So Important. Cambridge Univ. Press. 256pp discusses how physical laws of scale are important in determining rates of diffusion and heat transfer, transfer of force and momentum, the strength of structures, the dynamics of locomotion, and other aspects of the functioning of animal bodies. See also book by Brown & West.

Shortz, Will. (ed). (1991). The Giant Book of Games. 192pp of over 200 visual, word, & mathematical games, puzzles & mind teasers selected from Games magazine. NY: Times Books/Random House. See also the Second...

Sloyer, Cliff. (1986).

Fantastiks of Mathematiks: Applications of Secondary Mathematics

. Providence, RI: Janson. 143pp with 40 real-world applied math problems & solutions.

Last Updated: 3/28/16