Putting the magic into maths

February 13, 2012

Queen Mary, University of London has developed a new educational resource for teachers to help students use amazing magic tricks to learn about maths.

The web resource (www.mathematicalmagic.com), which includes the ‘Manual for Mathematical Magic’ and a series of interactive videos, was led by Queen Mary’s Professor Peter McOwan with the help of the College’s resident stand-up comedian Matt Parker and semi-professional magician and teacher Jason Davison.

Professor McOwan said: "It was great fun to be able to work with Matt and Jason on these new videos, showing how maths and magic can fuse together education and entertainment.

“While we explain most of the tricks, we have deliberately included a few where we leave the viewer to figure it out. It's all just maths, but we wanted to leave some magical mystery in there too!"

Mr Davison said: "Using the fun of magic makes this a really great way to learn some of the fundamentals of maths, the links between maths and magic are strong and a brilliant way to bring excitement into the classroom."

The educational website builds on a bank of teaching resources led by Professor McOwan, including Illusioneering (www.Illusioneering.org), a website which gives students and teachers the platform to explore science and engineering through a range of ; and cs4fn (www.cs4fn.org), a web and magazine initiative putting the fun into computer science.

The production of the videos for mathematicalmagic.com was possible due to funding from the UK National Higher Education STEM programme. The Programme supports Higher Education Institutions in the exploration of new approaches to recruiting students and delivering programmes of study within the Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Institute of Mathematics and its Applications project manager in HE STEM, Makhan Singh, said: “Once again we see the power of making education fun! Peter McOwan brings alive the mystery of magic whilst showcasing the power of mathematics - sheer brilliance! It’s entertaining, amusing, educational and most definitely relevant in today's classrooms; well done!”

Explore further: Combination of old and new media deepens mathematical understanding

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