Today we’re interviewing Laurie Wallmark, author of Numbers in Motion, and several other titles.
This book features the STEM topics of mathematical equations and science, and how Sophie Kowalevski became the first woman in the world to receive a doctorate in mathematics that required original research and inspired a generation of mathematicians.
Sophie was also the first to hold a university chair in mathematics, and the first to be the editor of a major scientific journal.
- Tell us about Numbers in Motion and what inspired you to write the story of Sophie Kowalevski.
As long as I can remember, I’ve loved math. Why? Because it’s fun! Although several of the people I’ve written about before have been talented mathematicians, they were recognized in different fields. I thought it was time to share a woman mathematician’s story with kids.
2. How did you do your research for this book? How did you organize all the information you learned about Sophie?
I researched her life through books and professional journal articles. A book that was especially helpful was written by Sophie herself, A Russian Childhood.
I use the program OneNote to organize all my research. I have a separate tab for each book, each of which includes a section for notes and for quotations. It’s very important to be able to go back to your notes and find the source for what you’ve written. In addition, I have tabs for my bibliography, a timeline of Sophie’s life, and, while I was researching and writing the book, an ever-expanding list of possible scenes to write.
3. How do you envision teachers and librarians using this book in classrooms?
The true value of picture books is that they can be used on so many levels. To start with, there is of course the text and illustrations of the story. Especially in a book like mine that takes place in another time period, there are many possibilities for discussing how the world has changed.
In addition, most nonfiction picture books, including mine, include some basic back matter such as a timeline and a bibliography. Numbers in Motion also has three more pieces of back matter. My author’s note tells how, in addition to being a mathematician, Sophie was also a writer. Next, for students (like me!) who might want to know more about Sophie’s math, I explain in more detail the problem she solved–the rotation of solid bodies. Finally, I include how Sophie Kowalevski’s name was transliterated from the Cyrillic alphabet. This presents a great opportunity to discuss how people’s (possibly even some of their classmates’) names might be spelled different ways when written in our Roman alphabet.
4. Can you suggest three questions related to women in mathematics for student discussions?
- Why do you think we haven’t heard of as many woman mathematicians as men?
- Do you think woman and girls have the same natural ability in math as men and boys?
- Do you think there are any women working in mathematics today who have made important discoveries
5. What do you want readers to take away from Numbers in Motion?
Sophie loved math and overcame many obstacles to pursue her studies. I think the big take away from Numbers in Motion is it’s worth pursuing your dreams, even if other people say you can’t or shouldn’t.
To read more about Laurie and her work, click here.
Want to own your very own copy of Numbers In Motion? Enter our giveaway by leaving a comment below!
You may earn extra entries by blogging/tweeting/facebooking the interview and letting us know. The winner will be announced here on April 13, 2020 and will be contacted via email and asked to provide a mailing address (US only) to receive the book.