Sara, the Math whiz heroine of this book. She is the daughter of Vijay and Sonia – both software engineers who had moved from India to North America. Sara was practically raised by her Nana (grandmother) who lived with them. She is a bright student – a slim girl who keeps shoulder length hair. She dresses well but modestly. Most of the stories are about Sara’s romance with her boyfriend Johnny. Johnny belongs to an upper middle class family. Like an average upper middle class boy, he is always well dressed. He is also well behaved and very social. One thing unique about him is his fondness for different types of bikes. Sara is in love with Johnny. She comes whenever her sweetheart calls because there is nothing better than being with him.
Johnny’s New Bike is an introduction to trigonometry (Trig). It starts about two years after Johnny and Sara have been going together. Johnny wishes he could buy an expensive bike that he has seen. His parents tell him that they would buy him the bike as an incentive towards his doing well in the upcoming semester. His average grade would have to be above 85%, else he would have to earn money and pay them back for the bike. He thinks he can do it except for Trig and wonders how much Sara could help. After knowing the features of the new bike, Sara devises a plan with which she ends up making Johnny a whiz at the subject. She takes him for strolls around their circular school building. They try to understand the relationships between angles and the movements towards North-South and East-West. Next, Sara divides the school into four quadrants – Assembly Hall, Science Class, Trig Class and Cafeteria. She uses these quads to show where values of different Trig functions are positive and negative.
In Stroll to the Water Tank Tower, they use Trig to determine the height of the tower with and without the tank. Johnny takes more interest in applications of Trig and suddenly has a new experience. His classmates come to him for help with the subject instead of treating him as a laggard.
The stories T-shirts for the Math Club, Sara and Johnny Visit Olivia’s school and The Little Tyke’s Birthday are stories to introduce different Trig identities. Of course, Sara is the central character in them with Johnny always around her. In the next story, the teacher challenges the class to use Trigonometry to determine the value of the constant pi. The idea here is that a circle is nothing but an infinite sided polygon. The challenge in this chapter takes the application of Trig to a different shape – a trapezoid. Hopefully this story takes away from the monotony of the use of Trig in right angle triangles to the analysis of any shapes be it triangles, quadrangles, polygons and even a circle.
Two stories are around a junior girl named Priya who comes from a struggling business family in which her single mother Jenna runs a T-shirt shop. Priya Befriends Sara, Priya does a Geography project. Priya befriends Sara who sees that it would be much better for Priya to use a map and polar co-ordinates. Priya rewrites the report accordingly with a solid interpretation of the data and a recommendation for the shop, and gets perfect mark for the project. In the story, The Fashion Show, Priya proposes that the Math Club at the school hold a fashion show as one of its activities. The presentation uses polar co-ordinates to create spirals, flowers, rings, oriental fans, highways with cloverleaf exits, stars, a heart, a maple leaf and even a butterfly.
In my opinion, everyone is capable of learning Math. The major deterrent is a lack of interest in this subject. These stories may fill this void. With my life time of experience in sciences and in education, I am not delusional to think that reading this book will convert a student into a Math genius. This work would serve its purpose if even a fraction of the readers get more interested in learning Math. Finally, it is not an accident that a girl named Sara is the Math whiz in these stories. I hope this creates an interest in Math in those girls who currently think that Math is not for them.
At the end of a story, there may also be a Challenge. The objective of the challenges is to broaden or to firm the concepts presented in the story. The Appendix contains solutions to all the challenge questions.