logo.rsm.full-colorRussian School of Mathematics
Get Started
Social Distancing|

Marvelous Math Library: Fun-tastic Math Resources for Your Family

Since Mother’s Day is just around the corner, we thought this would be a fitting time to honor the contributions made by women mathematicians and scientists over the centuries.

Some of our heroines hail from the Age of Enlightenment, some from the Industrial Revolution, some are nearer our own times. While several may be known to you, others may be new discoveries. Enjoy the ride!

The resources that we are sharing this week span across all age groups, from preschoolers to adults. May everyone find a tasty mathematical morsel to their liking!

As before, if you spy an eye symbol 👀 next to an item, it means that this particular resource is a visual feast!

In this special Mother’s Day issue:

  • Books and a Movie — Tales of Female Mathematicians and Scientists
  • Games and Manipulatives — Creative Stress Relief for Mom
  • Video Game — A Mother and Child Journey


Books and a Movie — Tales of Female Mathematicians and Scientists


Ada Byron Lovelace and the Thinking Machine by Laurie Wallmark. At the height of the Industrial Age, a brilliant and unconventional British mathematician aimed to bridge the gap between mathematics and poetry. Daughter of the “mad, bad, and dangerous to know” Lord Byron and a society intellectual, Ada Byron Lovelace developed a set of instructions for Charles Babbage’s mechanical computing engine, thus creating the world’s first computer program. Considered to be the godmother of modern computing, she anticipated today’s creative uses of computing machinery well over a century before electronic computers revolutionized our world.

Combine this lovely picture book biography with a spirited comic of what might have been.... Witty text and engaging art make collaboration between Ada Lovelace and Charles Babbage come to life in The Thrilling Adventures of Lovelace and Babbage by Sydney Padua.

In case our curious moms or older children are interested in learning more about Ada’s life and accomplishments, may we suggest Ada's Algorithm by James Essinger. As for our preschoolers, Ada Lovelace, Poet of Science by Diane Stanley may be just the thing.



Hedy Lamarr's Double Life: Hollywood Legend and Brilliant Inventor by Laurie Wallmark. Hedy Lamarr… a beautiful and glamorous Hollywood actress or a daring code-breaker and a wireless communications genius? Well… can’t a woman be all of those things? Read her story and find out... And if you are reading this on your cell phone or another secure wireless device, remember to give silent thanks to Hedy.


Madame Curie by Eve Curie. One of our favorite childhood memories is reading this wonderful biography of Marie Curie written with great respect and admiration by her younger daughter. As stated in the New York Times, "A biography that stirs the heart and the mind… a great story superbly told." Combine it with a gorgeously illustrated, impeccably researched graphic novel Radioactive: A Tale of Love and Fallout by Lauren Redniss for an unforgettable bonding experience with your teenage offspring!



Movie - Nonfiction Book - Young Readers’ Edition - Picture Book

(all books by Margot Lee Shetterly)

By now, thanks to the movie inspired by the book of the same title, many of you have heard of Katherine Johnson, Dorothy Vaughn, and Mary Jackson, NASA’s African-American female “computers” who helped launch John Glenn into orbit and bring Apollo 13 crew safely home. In these times of enforced togetherness, it might be wonderful to share their moving true story with your children, from the wide-eyed preschooler to the mind-of-her-own teenager. Instead of a customary Mother’s Day brunch, perhaps a shared viewing experience would be just the ticket to let their imaginations soar. Books may be savored before or after the viewing.


Passionate Minds by David Bodanis. Let’s be honest - as much as we love our children, every mom needs a bit of a getaway now and then… Never has this been as true as in these lockdown times. So how about curling up with a good book when the little ones are safely tucked in and the house is quiet? A ripping good yarn, this happens to be even more compelling because it is a true story of a brilliant French mathematician and physicist Emilie du Châtelet and her relationship with a poet and philosopher Voltaire. From Amazon: 

Passionate Minds at last does justice to the supremely unconventional life and remarkable achievements of Emilie du Châtelet—including her work on the science of fire and the nature of light. … Equally important, it demonstrates how this graceful, quick-witted, and attractive woman worked out the concepts that would lead directly to the “squared” part of Einstein’s revolutionary equation: E=mc2…. Passionate Minds is both panoramic and intimate in feeling. It is an unforgettable love story and a vivid rendering of the birth of modern ideas.

Games and Manipulatives — Creative Stress Relief for Mom

Roger von Oech’s Ball of Whacks is a terrific creativity tool for all ages and a wonderful stress reliever for our hardworking moms! Each set consists of thirty magnetic design blocks that can come together to form a ball or a tremendous variety of other figures. The patterns are endless. Here are some Whack-y ideas to inspire you! Perhaps your children can make a flower for mom? 👀

Chocolate Fix – Sweet Logic Game of Deductive Reasoning is another favorite from ThinkFun. Is there anything more appropriate for Mother’s Day than a box of chocolates? How about chocolates that tickle your brain as well as your palate?

Video Game — A Mother and Child Journey

Monument Valley II game on iOS and other digital platforms. You may remember the first version from our inaugural blog post… But there is something extra special about this one! From Pocket Gamer: “This is a game about mothers and daughters, the cyclical nature of life, and how we carry on the legacy of the people that came before us. It is nothing short of incredible.” 👀

Newsletter sign up

Stay up on the latest from RSM