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Math Corner: Add a Bit of Magic

July 29, 2008 · Filed Under Uncategorized 

Sometimes children need a bit of help to see the magic in mathematics.  If you like numbers, it’s magical the way they form patterns and follow rules.  It’s fantastic the way you can bend them to your will and get them to describe the world around you.  But if numbers are scary or boring or incomprehensible to students, they may need some additional motivation to begin to enjoy math.

This is where magic, as in sleight of hand, comes in.  Because numbers are so very predictable, there are many magic tricks, card tricks and mind reading tricks that rely on properties of numbers.  Some are quite easy to learn and to demonstrate, and if you choose your moment wisely, can be great motivators for your children or students. 

Here’s an easy one:  Choose a number between 1 and 20.  Multiply by 2, then add six.  Divide by 2.  Subtract the original number.  You can astound your audience by announcing that the answer is 3.  It’s always three, no matter what number was chosen to start with.  You could even seal the ‘prediction’ away in an envelope for added mystery.  Older students, once they try the trick, can be challenged to write an equation for the process, or to explain why the trick works.

You can get alot of mileage out of math magic.  You’ll want to give it a try!  Here are websites and books to help you:

Stunning Friends with Math Magic

Carnival Math from Funschool

Math Magic Tricks

Gnarly Math

And from Amazon:



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