Mathematical Magic - William Simon
Dover Publications (1993)
||QA95 .S495 1993
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All but the most rigid of personalities loves to see magic performed, so if it can be used to teach something, the combination is an effective learning tool. In this book, Simon demonstrates several magic tricks and also describes the mathematical principles that make them work. In my opinion, some of the tricks would be excellent tools for teaching later elementary school students some basic and at times sophisticated mathematics.
The chapter topics are:
*) Magic with numbers - most of these tricks are based on the properties of the decimal number system and basic algebra.
*) Magic with shapes - there tricks are based on simple topological properties of objects such as ropes and rubber bands.
*) Calendar magic - these tricks require the use of a Gregorian calendar and are based on the number of days in a week, basic properties of the decimal number system and basic algebra.
*) Mental magic - the tricks in this chapter are based on the memorization of specific rules and how those rules can be used so that you appear as a human calculator.
*) Magic squares - this is a fitting chapter, as magic squares are a long-running staple of recreational mathematics, which is what this book is about.
*) Magic with ordinary objects- the tricks here involve objects like matchsticks and coins. No sleight of hand or objects up the sleeve here.
*) Magic with cards - these are the magic tricks that have always been my favorites. When I was younger, my brother was deeply into card tricks and when he learned a new one, he would show me and challenge me to figure it out. I must confess that I was often stumped, although in many cases I was able to figure out how the trick worked.
These are tricks that require knowledge of mathematics to understand them, which can be of benefit to educators. To many people, mathematics, like advanced technology, is equivalent to magic. By expressing mathematics in a form that is more understandable, magic can provide another effective learning tool.