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Maths and Science and Bill Bryston A Short History of Nearly Everything Review

A Book Review
A Short History of Nearly Everything By Bill Bryson

 – Published  1st June 2004

Bill Bryson, O.B.E, F.R.S, (born December 8, 1951), is a best-selling American author of humorous books on travel, science and the English language.
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science maths with bill bryson ‘Welcome, and congratulations. I am delighted you could make it’; so begins Bills Bryson’s prize-winning, vibrant prose, A Short History of Nearly Everything, which is a scientific history of the world.  What could make a better read? Your eyes will crawl quickly over the pages, consuming and enjoying all the knowledge, facts and tales it has to offer. This books covers biology , physics with a sprinkle of the history of maths. 
Bryson brings to life a whimsical, wonderful wealth of science, which is often shrouded in mystery and destined not to be deciphered by the non-scientist.  Geology, chemistry, palaeontology and astronomy are imparted in a clear, fun and comprehensible way. Through his expedition of time and space, Bill Bryson surrenders to whimsical questions, which many science text books decline to supply. Subsequently, we travel as if we are on a trip of a lifetime. He does it with such frivolity, clarity and light heartiness so that even those of you who are most fearful of science would enjoy it and chuckle your way through this book. However, do not take his light hearted approach as a lack of concrete knowledge; for Bryson supplies us with a wealth of scientific facts and anecdotes.
This book is produced with the assistance of scientists, and each section of the book had to be rubber stamped with academic authority before its publication. It also won the prestigious Aventis Prize for best general science book in June 2004 and it was one of the best-selling popular science books of 2005 in the UK, selling over 300,000 copies.

A Short History of Nearly Everything tells us of anecdotal events that inform us of how certain developments in science have transpired. For example, how the German chemist Johann Becker in 1685 thought he could extract gold from human urine (given that urine is yellow like gold – of course!).  Becker kept the urine in his cellar for weeks, and mixed it with other substances until it turned into a bright yellow paste! As you would expect, it did not turn into gold, but later a strange thing did happen: when the substance was exposed to light, it would spontaneously combust. This led to the understanding of phosphorous, and later, to the development of matches.
With his humour and clear prose, Bryson surrenders to the questions so many of us would like to ask: Are the bones of the dinosaurs in the Natural History museum real?  How do we know how big Earth is?  Do scientists make mistakes, and if so, do tell? How many bones do we have of dinosaurs? How long do humans have left on Earth?

Although A Short History of Nearly Everything is limited to American and European scientists thus lacking in diversity, it still captures and excites your imagination, and takes you along on a scientific journey that so many science books fail to do.
Some would argue that A Short History of Nearly Everything is unbalanced and there is not enough biology or maths included in the book; others would say that the title does not betray the true nature of the book – it is not actually a history of everything! Nonetheless, although many books like it exist, for example Horrible Histories, I would argue that this book has crossed over.   I recommend you give this book a try.
A Short History of Nearly Everything is a fun to read, so much so that I now have an audio copy. For those of you who like to listen, you can ‘read’ a copy and listen at the same time. 
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The Abacus Can Help Your Child See Maths

What is an abacus?
An abacus is used to help children with maths. It normally has beads that can be moved up and down and sometimes around. It is normally brightly coloured and made of wood. It is a very ancient ma thematic tool. The abacus is not like an electronic calculator, it is a tool to help visually see what has been counted and to remember how much has been counted. 
How to help your child with maths abacus
Why use an Abacus?
Using an abacus is a different way to teach maths to children. Maths should be taught using a variety of resources from: songs, videos, worksheets and games. There is not one way to teach maths to younger children, so it is important to give them an opportunity to experience a variety of resources and ways to learn. Abacuses are  great for children that like to learn via the kinesthetic method of learning – touching and feeling. 
Who uses an abacus?
The abacus are used by many teachers and parents. However, it is not used in school as much as I think it should be.  It is a great way to have hands on fun with maths. As the beads are brightly coloured they attracts young children and can get them interested in maths from an early age.  
The history of the abacus
The abacus is an ancient tool that has been around for centuries. It was used in Africa and Asia by merchants selling in the market and by clerks. This was their form of an electric calculator! Some of the traders in the market wold have it attached to their side with string and use it  to add, multiply and subtract. Nowadays, we no longer use the abacus in the workplace, but it is great way for children to learn adding , subtraction, multiplication and even fractions!

How to use an abacus with your child
You can use the abacus it as a simple adding and subtraction tool. You can count numbers to 20 forwards and backwards. You can portion beads and add on or subtract.  Here is an abacus being used with a preschool child  to count in twos and to 20.
What age group should use and abacus
You can use an abacus with a child from age of 4 to 6. That is when a child is just about to enter school or has entered school. The earlier you start a child with maths the better they will be when they have to enter secondary school at the age of 11 years old. Read about why early years maths is so important here.  A firm grounding in maths is essential and an abacus is a great resource alongside other methods. 


To Conclude: 

Maths is important to learn from an early age. An abacus is a resource that comes in handy for young children. Children love the bright colours and moving the beads around. This is definitely something that you should have in your tool box of resources to use for children. My youngest son always enjoyed playing with an abacus. He used it to add and subtract and even do fractions. He is now seventeen and taking A\’level maths! I am not saying that your child will take A\’level maths, but a good start helps with a good understanding and grounding in maths.