if…A Mind-Bending New Way of Looking at Big Ideas and Numbers
The premise of this book is to “scale down big concepts” and reduce them to numbers and concepts that help readers to understand just how big some things are in relation to others. For example, if all the water in the world filled one hundred drinking glasses, only three glasses would contain fresh water and only one of those three would be available to us as drinking water (p. 22). Another page scales the events of the last 3000 years down to one month (the dodo bird goes extinct on the 27th) (pp. 14-15). This colourful book presents ideas in such a way that it is accessible to a great range of age levels and is interesting and educational for all. Topics include: our galaxy and our planet, water, inventions throughout time, species of living things, money, energy, food, as well as others. A special note for parents and teachers is provided suggesting activities to use with children to help them understand scale. The range of topics makes it ideal for cross-disciplinary use and each page features a separate topic so it does not have to be read all at once or in any particular order.
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Just like his book, "if the world were a village", Smith has perfectly related gigantic numbers to a more manageable understanding for students of all ages. I have used it for representing information, percents and fractions and of course the spacial skills needed to grid a picture and scale it up.
I hope to see a metric version very soon! Right now students can divide a strip of paper into three then in half to six and in half to twelve to represent the scale instead of using 'inches".
I'd love to know how other teachers have used this book. Please share!