Written by mathematical educator Paul Swan.
Motivational Maths has been designed to enrich the mathematical experience of older students or simply enthral younger students with the seeming magical properties of mathematics.
Teachers may use the ideas to introduce lessons, to finish a lesson on ‘a high note’, to arouse curiosity or extend the thinking of students. Alternatively, teachers may wish to copy the activities and allow students to jot down ideas or the calculations required to complete the trick. Older students should be encouraged to look a the reason behind the tricks; i.e. what makes them work? In many cases, this will provide the opportunity to discuss and develop algebraic ideas and concepts.
Younger students who are not ready for algebra may simply be allowed to wonder at the magic of mathematics. Remember, the purpose of introducing a ‘mathemagical’ trick should not be to baffle students with the intricacies of algebra but to turn them on to mathematics and motivate them!