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"To present a scientific subject in an attractive and stimulating manner is an artistic task, similar to that of a novelist or even a dramatic writer. The same holds for writing textbooks"
-Max Born, Nobel Prize-winning physicist and Einstein’s friend, 1968


Embark on a Vivid Journey Through World History

with a Focus on Science's Big Ideas in The Story of Science

“I’m convinced, and I hope to convince you, that science is not just for scientists. In the twentieth century, we compartmentalized knowledge; in the information age, that doesn’t make sense. Today, you can be a hermit on a mountain peak and still have access to the world’s learning. For scholarship to be so available, so democratic, is unprecedented in world history. To use that opportunity well, we all need to be generalists first. And no field of knowledge is as basic or as creative as science. . . . that human quest to understand the universe underlies almost all other creativity."
-A Writer’s Reasons, from The Story of Science, Aristotle Leads the Way

The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way

In this, the most incredible era of science ever, scientific illiteracy is no longer acceptable. These books tell science stories and coordinate them with hands on learning. The stories give meaning to experiments and vice versa.
A recent report from the National Science Board says, "There is no excuse for citizens in our technological society to say, 'I don't know anything about science.'"
What can we do? Educators talk of multidiscipliniary. The Story of Science is intended to make it possible. These books and accompanying materials meet new science standards.

Copublished by Smithsonian Books and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA), The Story of Science combines stories with coordinated "hands on" experiments and activities (found in the teaching materials). The Story of Science begins with Thales, way back in ancient Greece, sojourns with Galileo, Kepler and Newton, take on Faraday, Maxwell and the electromagnetic revolution, then Einstein, Bohr, Feynman and the moderns. These are books written for young readers of all ages–readers who want to think and learn, which includes everyone I know.

Increasingly,educators are turning to "content" subjects, like history and science, to teach critical reading. A History of US and The Story of Science were written to teach analytical reading. Some schools, using the books, have shown a documented rise in reading scores.

Aristotle Leads the Way

In this book, readers travel back in time to ancient Babylon, Egypt, Greece, India, and the Arab world. They explore the lives and ideas of people like Pythagoras, Archimedes, Brahmagupta, Al Khwarizmi, Fibonacci, Ptolemy, St. Augustine, and St. Thomas Aquinas. Those ancients asked questions that would eventually lead to modern science. They often got the wrong answers, but that question-asking was essential. Read this book and you'll understand why.

Combine ancient history, hands on science activities, and some research and writing with this book.

"In the interest of scientific education that is excellent as well as entertaining, The Story of Science: Aristotle Leads the Way is a superb start to what promises to be a valuable series."- Steve Ruskin, Rocky Mountain News

The Story of Science: Newton at the Center

Newton at the Center

In this book, readers watch as Copernicus's systematic observations place the sun at the center of our universe-to the dismay of establishment thinkers. After readers follow the achievements and frustrations of Galileo, Kepler, and Descartes, they appreciate the amazing Isaac Newton, whose discoveries about gravity, motion, colors, calculus, and Earth's place in the universe set the stage for modern physics, astronomy, mathematics, chemistry and modern political theory. Yes, Thomas Jefferson and John Adams both read Newton's amazing Principia. If the great world follows understandable rules, why can't nations do the same thing?

Lots of medieval and early modern history in this volume as well as concrete science and coordinated experiments.

The Story of Science: Einstein Adds A New Dimension

Einstein Adds A New Dimension

In this book, readers will look over Albert Einstein's shoulder as he and his colleagues develop a new kind of physics. It leads in two directions: to knowledge of the vast universe and its future (insights build on Einstein's theories of relativity), and to an understanding of the astonishingly small subatomic world (the realm of quantum physics). Students will learn why relativity and quantum theory revolutionized our world and led directly to the explosion of technology we all enjoy. Those two disciplines provide what are perhaps the most important ideas in modern science, maybe of all time.

For information on the wonderful teaching ebook written by NSTA president Juliana Texley to accompany this book go to the NSTA Science Store.

War, peace, the amazing post-war growth of the western world, followed by a worldwide surge brought about by discoveries in science and technology.
You can use this volume to teach history, science, or both.

The Story of Science, Download Sample Chapters

What People have been Saying about The Story of Science

A Letter to the Head of Smithsonian Books from a school leader:

The books are fantastic.

I have been teaching for 25 years with experience in an Ivy League University and a variety of very competitive prep schools. As a former prep school History Department chair (at Landon School) who made it a habit to teach everything in our department, I have probably used 20 different textbooks, including ones for courses in AP U.S. History, AP European History, AP Economics, AP Government, Latin American History, Civil Rights, Constitutional Law, World History, the History of the South. I go to conferences and scout around for the best texts, because they can play a critical role in the value of the course for the students.

Joy Hakim's work is the best I can find... She emphasizes narrative and tries to tell compelling stories about historical figures, with particular attention to their youth...My students like her stories and it is easy for me to get these not-always-eager readers to do so when it's one of her books.

...She has made the study of the history of science incredibly approachable for a great target audience: middle schoolers. It would work equally well, however, for high school [and freshman college] students. The sophistication of the material, at times, is really beyond our students, but I think it's best to be ambitious with them and teach it since it is so compelling.

There are two traits to the series that make it so good. First, as far as I know, she is the sole writer. Texts are typically written by committees, and often handed down and revised through the years. This makes for prose that reads as if it's been written, well, by a committee. I can't remember ever reading anything written by a group and thinking, "that's fantastic."

Second, she must be working her tail off to find the right stories to tell. This is actually obvious by virtue of the images she chooses to highlight her work. When I use her U.S. History series, I know the iconic pictures I want to show the students. When I used to teach with other texts, I had to go out and find them. Hakim's books seem to have virtually all of them there. She is a compelling storyteller, she knows what interests young people, and she creates enthusiasm for history and all its associated subjects.

Todd Barnett
Head of School
Field School
Charlottesville, VA


Here's a missive from an adult reader that spoke to me as few have. I've deleted his name, but am delighted that I'm reaching someone like this very bright man. It's also nice to hear about that astonishing jump in a test score.

Dear Joy Hakim,

I would like you to know that your wonderful books are enjoyed not only by children but adults as well. I purchased The Story of Science set a few years ago from an ad in the Smithsonian, and had them available for my children as a reference. Myself, I looked through them and enjoyed the fantastic quality of the material. I have to admit I didn't read them as a novel (yet), however this was about to change.

A little background first, I am 44, I left High School at 16 and went right to work full time. I have always loved books and felt somewhat of an accomplished reader. Skip ahead a few decades and I was about to discover my employment hinged on a diploma or a GED.

Taking a pre-test to check where I stood, Science was my lowest score, (passable, but my mentor suggested some refresher study). I immediately thought of your books. Starting with the first and reacquainting myself with Pathaegarons theory and being able to not only understand but able to appreciate how it can apply to life, ( I must have been absent that day it was covered or I wasn't paying attention). Continuing on to "Newton at the Center", I haven't
been able to put it down, and with last nights moon all I could think of was the chapters on Galileo. To sketch the moon with such a limited telescope (my entry level Celestron doesn't look to bad).

To sum things up, my final test on Science had a couple questions regarding information I had come across in " The Story of Science". Now, I am not saying I was perfect, but my score went up 120 points.

I want you to know that I am thankful for your books and your teaching. You helped make me understand Science more and appreciate basic ideas I have taken for granted (the artwork of the Renaissance for instance).

Name withheld

The Story of Science in Action!

California students absorbed in science in Jim Bentley's 5th grade class! Read Mr. Bentley's letter below.

Dear Joy Hakim,

These books are exactly what is needed to promote deep learning and thinking about science AND ancient civilizations and their relevance in our world today! In chapter 30 at the end of "Aristotle Leads the Way," author Joy Hakim states: "There is something I want to be sure you understand before you close this book. It's this: Science is not about certainty; it's about uncertainty: Does that sound weird? Well, it's true. Science is all about trying ideas, discarding those that don't work, and building on those that do. It never stops." She goes on to point out how scientifically minded people at various points in history have "proved" the Earth was flat or at the center of the universe and then cautions students that when a person believes "an absolute truth, you can just memorize it and get on with your life," since "there's nothing to discuss." This is one of the biggest ills plaguing education: resources and strategies that "impart" information to kids without requiring them to critically think, question, react to, and transform the information being studied. These texts and the teaching materials created by the Johns Hopkins University are the remedy to this problem.

Again, thank you SO MUCH for helping me provide my students the learning opportunities they deserve! Your assistance has transformed the lives of each of my students in ways that are impossible to measure.

With gratitude, 
Mr. B

McNair Elementary School, Virginia

The Story of Science goes edible!

The Story of Science graduation cake created by Mona's Cakes, Bakes, and More

Dear Ms. Hakim,

My name is Shreeda and I just graduated from high school about a week ago. I wanted to write to you to personally thank you for introducing me to the wonders of science, and specifically physics, through your books The Story of Science. My parents held a graduation party for me at home yesterday and surprised me with a beautiful cake featuring the cover of your book, which I read 4 years ago. I have attached pictures of it; everything pictured is edible.

This fall, I will be a freshman at Rutgers University New Brunswick, as part of their honors program. I aspire to be a physicist. Your book is defining my life.

Thank you,
(Shreeda has given permission to use her letter and photos. I wish her great luck in college!)

"Joy Hakim combines science, history, geography, culture, and art to tell the story of science in a way kids love. And don't be surprised if you learn a lot yourself."
-American Educator


"I can't sing Hakim's praises enough—from her A History of Us series to The Story of Science, all three volumes so far. I've been an avid science fan my whole life, but not a hard science major, and I gasped all the way through these books..."
-S.K. Woods

"As a teacher and curriculum writer, I have to say that this is a superb book from many, many angles. Joy Hakim is warm, compassionate, and passionately interested in her subject and in making it attractive and accessible not only to younger readers but to adults as well. I should really say "subject(s)" because she weaves history, mythology, science, math, philosophy, and religion together in a way that was fascinating enough to keep this long-in-the-tooth reader fully engrossed throughout...I strongly recommend this book for any human from 13 to 103."
-Nowell Didear, Sheridan, OR


"Don't make the mistake of thinking that these books are textbooks; these books are treasures."
-Kristi G, Rome, GA

"Hakim emphasizes the importance of mathematics to scientific progress and is not afraid to sprinkle a few numbers through the text, showing, for example, how the concept of zero transformed math into a tool for understanding practically everything..."
-Natalie Angier, The New York Times

A letter from a college professor/​author:
Dear Joy,
Your writing is what I wish my sons (and my students!) could have been reading in place of the standard blah science texts in middle school. I couldn't help but flip to the Faraday section and found everything spot on. As you know, I've introduced an activities-based, historical approach in my college astronomy course. It's coincidence that I titled it "The Story of
Astronomy" before I was aware of your series, but I believe that commonality underlies our mutual respect for the value and power of historical narrative in education.
Best wishes,
Alan Hirschfeld, author, The Electric Life of Michael Faraday

The Story of Science translated into Korean, Chinese next

School Orders
Special discounts and sample books are available.

A History of US
Tel: (800) 445-9714

The Story of Science
Tel: (202) 633-2495

Reading Science Stories
Email: joyhakim@​

For For more information, please visit Joy's Ordering/​Contact page.

From the student and teacher Quest Guides from Johns Hopkins: Mr Fibonacci's Numbers, Book 1, Chap 25