Aloha Friday Art, episode 4 celebrates MATH in picture books, poetry, and visual art. The Aloha Friday Art series is created and hosted by author/illustrator, Edna Cabcabin Moran (AKA Ms. Edna, teaching artist in the schools).  Aloha Friday Art runs every other week–the next episode, no. 5 comes out on Friday, May 22.
Above photo: Padma Venkatraman (see her interview about poetry & math), Laurie Wallmark (find out about her new picture book on the story of mathematician Sophie Kowalevski), and Edna Cabcabin Moran (shown with current books in publication she’s contributed to or written).

Inside Episode 4:

• Introducing Poet & KidLit / YA Author, PADMA VENKATRAMAN

• Author LAURIE WALLMARK Talks About Her New Nonfiction Book

Math in Visual Art (Tips & Techniques) by Ms. Edna

Golden Ratio in Nature by Mate Marschalko via medium

Introducing Poet & Author, PADMA VENKATRAMAN

Get to know award-winning scientist turned author/speaker, Padma Venkatraman, in this short interview about two of her passions: poetry and math/mathematics.

ECM: How long have you been writing poetry?

PV: My mom says I wrote poetry even when i didn’t enjoy actually physically writing! Apparently I would dictate poems to her when I was three and at that time I was really confident about my line breaks (which I think a whole lot about now)! I can’t remember a time when poetry wasn’t part of me. I love reading it as much as writing it. 

ECM: What inspired you to write a poem about zero? 

PV: I’ve always found mathematics as beautiful as language!  And without a mathematical symbol for “nothing” (which in a sense, it could be said zero represents, but only in a way) nearly nothing would be possible in mathematics!

ECM: Please share your backstory on how the idea came to you. 

PV: The Zero was invented independently by two cultures – the Mayans and the Indians. The Indian zero, however, is the one that traveled to the Arab world and then, through them, to the Europeans. Without the Indo-Arabic numeral system, it’s impossible to do any real mathematics. 

I find it fascinating (and sad) that so many scientific inventions and mathematical discoveries came from cultures that were non-European, and yet so few people realize or acknowledge or respect the inventiveness and creativity of these cultures. I think this poem stems both from my joy and pride in where the discoveries were made and my sadness that these cultures aren’t given due credit.  

I hope the poem will help readers, young and old, look at books like LOST DISCOVERIES by Dick Teresi and THE CREST OF THE PEACOCK by George J Joseph and THE ARGUMENTATIVE INDIAN by Amartaya Sen, so they can get a better sense of the importance of non-Western contributions to science and mathematics. Diversity is so significant in the history of science and unfortunately vastly ignored. 

ECM: What it was like to write in the tanka form of poetry? 

VK: I love the challenge of short poetic forms that force us to limit our words and choose our words very carefully. I also liked the idea that a poem on mathematics forced me to create inside a set of rules, which in a way happens when you study mathematics and science (there’s creativity in both subjects, but there are rules, too, within which we often work in these fields).

Many thanks to Padma Venkatraman for taking time to share her unique point of view and fascinating trivia and background about the number zero. To learn more about Ms. Venkatraman and her books, please visit: .

From THANKU: Poems of Gratitude (Millbrook), Illustrated by Marlena Myles.

Click on the image above, depicting Padma Venkatraman’s poem in the THANKU anthology, for enlarged view option; or hover over to zoom in on details.

Listen to Padma Venkatraman, read Zero, her tanka poem contribution to the award-winning picture book anthology, THANKU: Poems of Gratitude (Millbrook).

My initial connection to Padma was as a fellow contributor to the poetry picture book anthology, THANKU: Poems of Gratitude. I met Padma in-person when I met her at the Highlights Writer Workshop in Sept 2019. She was one of the faculty and I was taken by her enthusiasm for craft in kid lit and YA books and her passion for story and authenticity of voice. I appreciate her recording her tanka poem about zero and allowing me to share it in this fourth installment of Aloha Art Friday. ~ECM

Interview with Author, Laurie Wallmark

In November 2018, I met Laurie Wallmark for the first time. We were fellow alumni of the Picture Book Boot Camp–a master class for published authors. To be in a supportive and inspiring setting with a small group of dedicated and talented writers is nothing short of incredible but it can also be a bit intimidating. While I had previously known a handful of these writers, I wondered how an introvert like me could handle the requisite socializing and small talk of a larger group. It turned out that mixing and mingling was easier than I’d imagined. I found out that writers like Laurie, whose award-winning works proceed her, are friendly and down-to-earth. I already known about Laurie’s award-winning Women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) biographies and I admired Laurie’s distilling complex information and connections to STEM in her picture book narratives. This ability speaks to her writing chops as well as artistry on the page. So, with great pleasure and appreciation, I introduce my friend and colleague Laurie Wallmark and I congratulate both she and Yevgenia Nayberg on their newest book. ~ECM

ABOUT THE VIDEO; Author, Laurie Wallmark’s book, NUMBERS IN MOTION: Sophie Kowalevski, Queen of Mathematics was released this spring. Find out more about Laurie and her book in this video chat.

(Length of video: 10:19 mins.)

A Word from Laurie

My full-time job is writing for children, and I love it. Some previous jobs I’ve held are software engineer, owner of a mail order company (I had a bookstore on the Web before Amazon did!), and computer science professor. 

My latest #WomenInSTEM picture book biography, NUMBERS IN MOTION: SOPHIE KOWALEVSKI, QUEEN OF MATHEMATICIAN (Creston Books), came out in March 2020. My previous titles were HEDY LAMARR’S DOUBLE LIFE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2019), GRACE HOPPER: QUEEN OF COMPUTER CODE (Sterling Children’s Books, 2017), and ADA BYRON LOVELACE AND THE THINKING MACHINE (Creston Books, 2015). 

Learn more about Laurie at her site:

Ms. E’s Workshop: There’s Math In Those Drawings

This workshop is STEAM-ing with info, tips and techniques for drawing practically anything using a few math principles. The mini-lesson is suitable for kids in grades 3-5. Younger kids can follow along but might need help understanding the “Golden Ratio.” Here’s hoping that the pictures and explanation in the video help. Let me know if you have any questions. ~ECM

ABOUT THE VIDEO: Ms. Edna talks about the math principles used, both historically and today, in drawing and painting. She also puts on two (2) demos (both were sped-up) to show the step-by-step processes for drawing from a reference picture and from using one’s imagination.

(Length of video: 10:42 minutes.)

A word from the creator of ALOHA ART FRIDAY, Edna Cabcabin Moran (AKA Ms. Edna): It is my hope that people enjoy this free series including the art projects, references and materials. The majority of content in this series is either created and/or sourced from public domain or stock art by me except for feature writings, artwork or other media by other creators who have given their express permission for use in ALOHA FRIDAY ART. If you have any questions pertaining to any content in this series, please send me an email query at info (at) kidlitedna (dot) com. Thank you!
ALOHA FRIDAY ART ©2020 Edna Cabcabin Moran. All Rights Reserved.