Death-Defying Challenges for Young Mathematicians



“The year is 1714.  You’re in a dark Spanish prison.  You wake up to find yourself tied to a table with ropes.  In the darkness you hear a rhythmic swishing sound — something going back and forth, back and forth.”

This is just the first paragraph of The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math: 24 Death-Defying Challenges for Young Mathematicians, by Sean Connolly.  Each challenge contains a word problem in the form of a story, work-space to figure out the problem (please don’t write in the library books though!), a detailed description of how to solve the problem using math, and a “math lab” section where kids can explore the math problem with a science experiment.

The math challenges are more than just a fun way to get kids calculating.  Word problems are some of the most difficult questions for kids on math tests.  They are also the problems which kids are most likely to run into outside of school.  The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math takes word problems to a new level, getting kids engaged in the adventure story while also offering step-by-step instructions to keep them from getting frustrated.

The Book of Perfectly Perilous Math is great for kids in grades 5-7, especially those who are struggling with word problems in math.  If you like this book, check out Sean Connolly’s books on science: The Book of Totally Irresponsible Science and The Book of Potentially Catastrophic Science.

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