The Magic of Maths – become a Maths Magician

You may be surprised to learn that there is a lot of mathematics behind magic, and by giving your students maths magic tricks to investigate, you and your class can learn new applications of mathematics and become maths magicians. You will find that these activities can be engaging for even the most reluctant maths student.

The following simple illusion is just one example that intrigues young and old alike. Cut along the dotted line and slide the lower half along by one face and magically one of the faces vanishes! Challenge your students to draw their own illusion. Start with something simple like a picture of pencils, blocks or hats.

  

 

 

 

 

The website Geometrical Vanishes is a good place to start when looking at visual magic

http://library.thinkquest.org/28049/geometrical_vanishes.htm

 

Some more Visual Maths Magic can be investigated with the area of these shapes.

 

 

 

This set of four pieces is called Hooper’s Paradox. The top rectangle has an of area of 30 (10x3) and can be rearranged into the bottom shape, which is made up of two rectangles. Strangely these two rectangles have a combined area of 32 (2x6 + 4x5 ). When the magician performs this trick he exclaims how he has gained 2 more pieces for free.

 

To see Hooper’s Paradox being performed by a professional magician play this video to your students, then ask them to make cardboard versions of Hooper’s Paradox and investigate how it works.

www.youtube.com/watch?v=bS-EHpIpOVY

 

Websites on Mathematical Magic

 

Google – Maths Magic on YouTube and you will discover hundreds of videos.

One of my favourites is “Math magic card trick!!” as it shows two teenagers demonstrating a card trick in the park. At the end of the video one of the teenagers says “How does it do it, I don’t know!”

What a great place to start the lesson with your class….. www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLJYZJ_ZuGA

 

Tricks and Games on Murderous Maths website

Prime number trick, Predictor cards, Five card trick, Calendar trick and many more

www.murderousmaths.co.uk/games/gamesint.htm

 

Stunning Friends with Math Magic

A collection of 22 card tricks, number guessing games, paper and glue magic, and other maths magic tricks. Each trick is explained

www.cut-the-knot.org/arithmetic/rapid/magic.shtml

 

Maths & Magic

Website gives a range of interesting maths magic tricks

www.counton.org/explorer/mathsmagic/ 

 

Hidden Answers – Mathematical Magic

Website gives 15 interesting mathematical tricks of varying difficulty 

www.numericana.com/answer/magic.htm#1089 

 

 

Books on Mathematical Magic

 

Mathematics, Magic and Mystery by Martin Gardner

Magic tricks that may be played with cards, common objects, special equipment, drawings, and pure numbers. This is one of the great maths magic books.

www.amazon.co.uk/Mathematics-Magic-Mystery-Dover-books/dp/0486203352

 

Creative Magic by Steve Humble and Martin Duffy

Children and adults will improve their mathematical skills in a friendly and fun way. This book shows you how to perform magic and how to create your own versions of classic magic tricks. The creativity comes from the chapters ideas on how to develop the tricks to make them your own. 

www.amazon.co.uk/Creative-Magic-Steve-Humble/dp/1446116174

Or from iTunes at £1.99 -

 http://itunes.apple.com/us/book/become-maths-wizard-creative/id467188942?mt=11

 

Magic for Kids by Andrew Jeffrey

It includes a huge range of mathematical tricks which both teach and entertain.

www.andrewjeffrey.co.uk/products.asp

 

Murderous Maths books by Kjartan Poskitt

All the books in this series contain some maths magic tricks

www.amazon.co.uk/Murderous-Maths-Everything-Kjartan-Poskitt/dp/1407131435/ref=pd_sim_b4