Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Thomas John Kearney  

Pen Name: Thomas Kearney

Genre: Other

Audience: Adult; Young Adult; Children;

Born: 1953 in Elmhurst, Illinois

-- Website --
-- Thomas Kearney on WorldCat --

Illinois Connection

Kearney was born in Elmhurst but grew up in Westchester, Illinois. He went to Proviso West High School in Hillside, Illinois and attended college at the University of Illinois in Champaign where he played football and was a track letterman for 2 years. After graduating he became a teacher and a coach at Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Illinois. Eventually he moved to Andrew High School in Tinley Park, Illinois and taught Biology, Environmental Education, and Animal Behavior. At the time, he created the class there were maybe 5 other schools in the country that had a class similar. He became a Teacher Adviser for Brookfield Zoo and served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Science Teacher Association. Kearney retired from teaching in 2009. He currently resides in Kankakee with his wife Susan. They have 3 children and 8 grandchildren.

Biographical and Professional Information

Thomas Kearney attended the University of Illinois in Champaign, and graduated with academic honors in 1975. While at the University of Illinois he majored in PE with minors in Driver Education and Biology. He also played football and was a 2 year letterman in Track. After graduating he became a teacher at A.A. Stagg High School in Palos Hills, Illinois, and eventually transferred to Victor J. Andrew High School in Tinley Park where he taught Biology, Environmental Education, and a class he created himself called ''Animal Behavior''. He was a Teacher Adviser for Brookfield Zoo for a number of years and served on the Board of Directors of the Illinois Science Teacher Association representing the suburban areas of Chicago. As a teacher, Kearney was a speaker for various seminars and conferences and also coached football and track for over 25 years. He retired from teaching in 2009. After retiring, he and his wife founded a non-for-profit called ''Earth Stewards'', which he uses to help teach environment and nature classes for schools and the park district.Kearney's writing career began after he retired. He first wrote ''Zoo-a-logical Math'' and then ''Zoo-a-logical Math Junior''. In both books he compares various animals and humans in athletic events using math. ''Zoo-a-logical Math'' is for grades 7-college, and ''Zoo-a-logical Math Junior'' is for grades 4-12. He also makes various presentations related to his books and the ideas behind his writing.The books, ''Zoo-a-logical Math'' and ''Zoo-a-logical Math Junior'', were born when Kearney was teaching Animal Behavior class. Students would ask him various questions about animals, and sometimes he would create some math problems that would help answer the questions. He found that when he created these "animal math questions" the students would really be focused in on the math.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

Zoo-a-Logical Math: A Mathematical Challenge between Humans and the Rest of the Animal World
ISBN: 1457510006

Dog Ear Publishing, LLC. 2012

The work for this book began with a course I created and taught called Animal Behavior. I always knew that there was a strong magnetic bond between people and animals, but it wasn’t until I began working on my curriculum that I truly found out how strong this bond really was. Millions of people, young and old, will visit zoos and aquariums each year. People stand in front of the animals, hypnotized by the every movement of the animal. People seemed to be looking not just at the animal, but almost as if they were looking inside these animals, wondering and questioning about the lives of some of our most distant animal relatives. In my classroom, I found the exact same kinds of responses. The discussions and questions of my students motivated me to share with you the lives and abilities of some of the most amazing living creatures in the world. People realize that humans are also animals, but the belief that we have superior intelligence and problem solving abilities makes us think we are far superior to all of the rest of our Animal World. As I began to learn more and lead my student discussions, I soon realized that maybe our intelligence was the only thing that we really did have in our superiority over the rest of our animal relatives. I began to look into the idea of comparing humans to animals in a wide variety of behaviors and activities, and soon a brand new window into the REAL world of animals began to open up. I soon realized that even the most “insignificant” animals in our world were really superstars when compared to humans. By using math, we are able to truly get a comparison of animals and how they relate to our own human abilities. As I began to create the problems and “do-the-math”, it became very evident, that I began to get the responses that I had hoped for. I soon began to call these responses, the “Wow factor”. A number of times, the teachers that have worked on the problems would actually go back and do the problems a second time because “there has to be a mistake” or “no way that this can be true”. There were no mistakes and the math did not lie. The math allowed us to look at the animals in a totally different way. I hope that you too will be amazed and “wowed” by some of these amazing animals that we share our world with.

Zoo-A-Logical Math Junior: A Mathematical Challenge Between Humans and the Rest of the Animal World
ISBN: 1457520427

Dog Ear Publishing, LLC. 2013

The inspiration for this book began when I was teaching a high school class called Animal Behavior. This was an elective Science class that combined Biology, Zoology, Psychology, and Sociology. During the course we would talk about a variety of different animals and the different behaviors that they would exhibit. One of the goals that I would always try to do is show the students how amazing or truly "unbelievable" some of these animals really were. People very seldom think of themselves as being a part of the animal world, and when we do we only think of how we are so superior to all of the rest. I soon realized that when I "put the math" to some of these human-animal comparisons, it was as if a whole new window opened up to the World of Animals. These math problems showed us just how awe inspiring animals really are.

Speaking Engagements

Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)

Contact author via

  • email at
  • or
  • phone at 815 935-2781 or 815 735-3711. Fees are negotiable. The author prefers to speak to educational groups or people with a interest in animals. He prefers to stay within a 50-60 mile radius of Kankakee, but will talk with interested groups outside of that radius.