As a child, I remember being terrified of Mathematics. As I got promoted each year in school, the numbers got bigger and became even scarier. When I received the ARC of ‘The Mathematical Investigations of Dr. O and Arya’ from Prof Giray Okten, I was more than glad to review this book.
‘The Mathematical Investigations of Dr. O and Arya’ by Prof Giray Okten and Arya Okten is a fun book with many mathematical activities and exercises. The book follows the two titular characters – Dr. O and his young daughter Arya as they solve various mathematical problems that comprise codes, prime factorization, number grid, etc. The illustrations of the father-daughter duo talking about mathematical problems make math seem rather easy to comprehend and fun.
Prof Giray believed that young kids could be taught ‘advanced’ mathematical topics and that they would enjoy them – so long as they were presented in the right way. Hence, he started workshops to teach mathematics in interesting and fun ways. After experiencing success with his initial work, he came up with the idea to publish this book.
The book begins with decoding the ‘Caesar code’, yes the interesting way in which Julius Caesar sent secret messages. Each section consists a bit of fun conversation between Dr. O and Arya, a snippet on the history about the concept, and solving the problem with additional exercises for the reader.
The mathematical problems become rather lively as Dr. O and Arya play board games, make number soup, eat lollipops, exchange secret messages, enjoy rides at a carnival, and juggle prime numbers with a clown.
‘The Mathematical Investigations of Dr. O and Arya’ is designed for an age group of 9-12-year-olds. Children within this age group can read this book on their own and solve the problems. I would add that this book makes for a great resource for parents and teachers to sit with the children, taking each section at a time to solve the questions together. It will be interesting for young readers to understand and solve math problems while been encouraged by an elder. At the end, the authors provide answers to the questions and puzzles posed in the book for one to check.
In short, this book attempts to make ‘Mathematics’ fun for children, opening a portal to use numbers in daily life and in an exciting way. Imagine exchanging secret notes written in codes with your child and creating little adventures around mathematical problems in a daily routine. This excitement at decoding and understanding numbers is sure to help children build the mathematical acumen required for their adult life.
About the Authors
Arya Ökten is a PhD student in immunobiology at Yale University, and Dr. O’s original student. Arya likes to spend her free time reading books and enjoying good chocolate.
Giray Ökten is a professor of mathematics at Florida State University.
Arya and Giray wrote this book over several years based on math workshops they co-taught to students from elementary and middle schools in Tallahassee.
I received ‘The Mathematical Investigations of Dr. O and Arya’ by Prof Giray Okten and Arya Okten in exchange for an honest review.