Monday, February 05, 2007

Thank you Kjartan Poskitt!

99% of the math Brian knows he learnt not from schools or textbooks, but from Kjartan Poskitt. Poskitt is mastermind of the Murderous Math series, which Brian has loved and devoured since 2004.

In November 2006, Brian took part in a UK math challenge. The test is actually for Years 5 and 6 (Brian's in Year 4), but his teacher took him out of his class to take the test too. We weren't told about this and he had not prepared for the test.

He topped the test in his school and was given a gold award certificate. We found out last week that he's the only one in his school to qualify for the finals. Out of about 100,000 children in UK who took part, 1.5% made it to the finals, so Brian really has to thank Kjartan Poskitt for getting through. Wish him luck, the finals will be held this Wednesday.
From the photo, the first two books Murderous Maths and More Murderous Maths cover general topics. The last 3 books are Sudoku, Kakuro (Christmas present from his form teacher) and a math mindbenders book.

The rest are arranged in order of difficulty (easy to difficult), according to Brian's assessment:
1. The Essential Arithmetricks - Order of operations, multiplication and long division, squares, cubes, decimal system.
2. Desperate Measures - Units of measurement, perimeter, area, volume.
3. Numbers: The key to the Universe - Fibonacci series, triangular, square, tetrahedral, hexagonal numbers, pi, imaginary number, e, prime numbers, rational/irrational numbers.
4. Do you feel lucky? - Probability, Pascal's triangle, factorials.
5. Mean and Vulgar Bits - Improper and proper fractions, adding/subtracting/multiplying/dividing fractions; Averages, mean, mode, median.
6. Vicious Circles and Other Savage Shapes - All about triangles, polygons and circles.
7. The Perfect Sausage and other Fundamental Formulas - Understanding formulas eg using formulas to find the nth triangle number.
8. The Phantom X - Algebra, simultaneous equations, linear equations, quadratic equations (he hasn't mastered quadratic equations).
9. The Fiendish Angletron - Geometry (measuring angles, drawing triangles) and Trigonometry (he learnt some basic sine, cosine, tangent stuff here).

Some concepts in the last few books are harder to grasp. But there's no harm exposing the child to these, cos when the time comes for the topic to be taught in school, he won't find the terms entirely alien. Brian's all-time favourite is Numbers: The Key to the Universe. Actually, he also likes Do you feel lucky? a lot.

The best part about these books is that Brian doesn't even realise he's learning mathematical concepts; he's too busy laughing at the ridiculous comics inside. Poskitt's a genius!


Alcovelet said...

Hi Lilian, Brian and Sean are amazing!! The Horrible Science books are great too - they're just crazy funny, and RK usually recounts them while chuckling so hard that he's barely comprehensible. Hysterical!

Lilian said...

Not amazing really. They just like to read nonsensical stuff, the more ridiculous, the better. I think they've got my warped sense of humour! Like RK, they chuckle lots too when reading these books.

Kjartan said...


I stumbled on your nice picture of my books and read your article. WELL DONE BRIAN!

So glad I've been of some help!

Best wishes -- Kjartan

Lilian said...

Wow, if this is really THE Kjartan Poskitt, we are unbelievably thrilled! It's not just Brian who has been hooked to all your books, but his little brother Sean who's 5 years younger too. All our MM books have been read till they are tattered. They are the best! As I said somewhere else in my blog, really hope you'll write an MM book on calculus :)