The Girl With a Mind For Math: The Story of Raye Montague

Author: Julia Finley Mosca
Lower Age: 7
Upper Age: 10
Price: $9.95
Year Added: 2021
Amazon URL:
Book Cover for the Girl with a Mind for Math
The Girl with a Mind for Math, written by Julia Finley Mosca and illustrated by Daniel Rieley, is a beautifully illustrated picture book telling the story of famous engineer Raye Montague.

Not only does this book detail Montague's life story in a way that is accessible for younger readers, but it also includes a more detailed biography and timeline of Raye's life and an interview with Raye herself. While the meaning of this book is clear, some of the words used may be difficult for newer readers to understand on their own so a more experienced reader should be on-hand to assist with these words. 

The Girl with a Mind for Math, more than anything, teaches perseverance. Raye Montague, the story's focus, was the first Naval engineer to design a submarine using computer-aided design. Despite her overwhelming success later in life, her steps to get there were deeply challenging. Despite her incredible gifts in math and science, Raye was turned away from engineering school because of her race. Instead, Raye decided to pursue business and graduated with honors. Raye proved herself to be the definition of hard work: she started from the bottom and worked her way to the top, proving her engineering abilities every step of the way. Despite facing extreme discrimination in the workplace, Raye proved herself as an engineer by using computers to design in hours what in the past had taken months. However, despite her outstanding talents, Raye was still discriminated against due to being a woman of color and not allowed to do many things in the workplace, including not being permitted to attend the unveilings of ships she had designed. Raye's story is one that every young person should hear. It lays out the importance of hard work and perseverance and approaches the topics of prejudice, segregation, and racial discrimination in a manner accessible for those who may not have had exposure to the topic before. 

The book is a powerful retelling of Raye's story, and the detail that goes into even the most minor parts, such as the bibliography, is truly amazing. This book makes clear that any person can do anything they put their mind to, and while there will always be people who stand in their way, hard work will eventually always be rewarded. 

This book teaches engineering thinking and problem solving by describing each step of what Montague did in order to create her fantastic submarine designs. Readers can also investigate the issues, solutions, and impacts of Montague's designs as the book walks through how what Raye created changed the world. Finally, readers must strongly consider ethics, especially in the workplace and education where Raye faced severe discrimination due to her skin color. This book expects the reader to consider this unethical treatment, demonstrating how many amazing inventions the world never saw due to the discrimination of people of color in the STEM fields. 

The book The Girl with a Mind for Math is a fantastic way to introduce engineering topics such as perseverance, engineering thinking, and problem-solving in a delicate and accessible way. It is perfect for any young scientist and engineer to learn that they can do anything they set their mind to. 

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Framework Categories

Concepts of Engineers and Engineering (CEE)
Apply SEM Knowledge (SEM)
Issues, Solutions, and Impacts (ISI)
Engineering Thinking (EThink)

Moore, T.J., Glancy, A.W., Tank, K.M., Kersten, J.A., Smith, K.A., & Stohlmann, M.S. (2014). A framework for quality K-12 engineering education: Research and development. Journal of Precollege Engineering Education Research, 4(1), 1-13.