Figuring (it is on the list of required texts for purchase/rent for this course).

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General Project Description:
In this 2-page Mini-Essay and Books/Resources Review (also known as an Annotated
Bibliography), you will summarize, evaluate and describe what you learned from 3 traditional
print books and 3 online resources that “unhide a hidden figure.” Your description will also
connect some aspect(s) of your figure’s life in science or math to the unique, but related
differences of 2 other “figures” that you learned about in the historical narrative of Maria
Popova’s Figuring.
Recommended steps:
1. Getting Started.
To begin this project, first read Chapter ONE plus 1 other chapter (or substantial section) of
Figuring (it is on the list of required texts for purchase/rent for this course). As you will see,
“non-traditional” texts have some challenges – Popova is not a “linear” historian! You may find
that the Index is more helpful than the “Table of Contents as you try to select your 2 nd chapter.
Read around in this text until you find something that you are curious about. What types of
“figures” or areas of nature studies mentioned in this book especially interest you? Choose a
chapter that fits your personal interests!
2. Deeper Dive.
As you read these chapters, imagine the deep history of the “figure” or type of nature studies
the chapters describe. Who were some of the intellectual “ancestors” who were earlier
“studiers” of similar fields? Google around! Find some likely candidates from the deep past
(before 1850). Whose name and contributions are completely “new” to you? Choose one of
these that seems to be a good “fit” for this project.
3. Create your Annotated Bibliography.
a. Using any reliable method, find and evaluate at least 5 traditional print books and 5 online
resources about your “hidden figure.” Make a list of these resources and begin your
Annotated Bibliography with them. If your figure is deeply “hidden” from history, you may need
to substitute texts about their area of nature study (science) instead of texts that mention them
by name.
b. Make an alphabetical list of all 10 sources. Then, select the 3 best of each type (the
resources that seem to be the most informative, most interesting and most reliable).
c. For each of these “top 3” examples of both types, write a formal “annotation” (this means a
full bibliographic “citation” with author, title, publisher, date, location found etc) along with a 5-7
sentence summary for each that includes this info:
– Who is the “author” or responsible compiler? When was the source published/produced?
By what publisher or on what platform / blog / website etc?
– What valuable info does the source provide about its main subject?
– What age groups or interest groups is the material primarily intended for (these may be
from Grade 4 up to College / Graduate students)
– What approach does the author / writer take toward the subject / topic? (Biographical, social
interest, educational, casual “fun facts” or political, etc?)
– What interesting/unexpected features or controversies does the source discuss/present?
– Do the sources give any clues as to why their subjects became “hidden” from history?
– How do your “best” sources together contribute to efforts to “unhide” hidden figures and bring
them into the main story of the History of Science? Is there additional “unhiding” that still
needs to be done for your figure’s story? Explain.
4. Organize and Write your Mini-Essay
a. Once you have completed your bibliography, write a summary of your version of the “life
story” of your “hidden figure’s” basic biography and experiences in science or math. Be sure to
include a clear explanation of what kind of science or math they worked in and what their main
contributions were. This will form the introductory paragraph of your essay. You may want to
include images to visually represent and un-hide your “hidden figure.”
b. Then, think about your “hidden figure” in relation to the person featured in Chapter 1 of
Maria Popova’s nontraditional “history of science” book, Figuring. In what ways was this “well-known” life of science also “hidden” in plain sight? What aspects of this life have not been
included in how the story of his contribution to science and math is typically told? How many
kinds of “differences” did this figure represent in his intellectual life and personally, culturally, and socially? How did he experience hardships and discrimination because of them? What
similarities can you see between aspects of his story (as told by Popova) and the life story of
your “hidden figure”? Include your thoughts about these questions in the next few paragraphs.
c. Then: think about your “hidden figure” in relation to the content of your additional selected
chapter of Figuring. How does your selected chapter include a story that offers “hidden”
perspectives on the ways that “life stories of science and math” can / should be told and the
kinds of important aspects of the actual, fully realized lived experience of “nature studies” that
could be included, but typically are not? Devote several paragraphs to these issues.
In the final paragraphs of your essay, summarize your overall findings and conclusions,
offering a comparison and contrast between your “hidden figure” and the 2 chapters from
Popova’s book. Be sure to consider and evaluate the pros and cons of including or excluding
“hidden” perspectives in our History of Science stories.

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