Skip to content
Would you like to visit your local site?

Australia

We noticed you’re located in New Zealand. There isn't a local site available. Would you like to visit the Australian site?

Australia

Would you like to visit your local site?

Belgium

Would you like to visit your local site?

Canada

Would you like to visit your local site?

China

Would you like to visit your local site?

Italy

Would you like to visit your local site?

Mexico

Would you like to visit your local site?

Netherlands

Would you like to visit your local site?

UK

Would you like to visit your local site?

France

Would you like to visit your local site?

Japan

Skip to Content
Back to Crayola.com Become a Creative Champion with Crayola
Sign Up!
Skip to Navigation

Mathemagic

Can a simple strip of hand colored paper and two paper clips get students excited about math? Introduce topology with this fascinating “magic” trick.

  • Grade 6
    Grades 7 and 8
  • 30 Minutes or Less
  • Directions

    1. Initiate a discussion of magic by asking if students have ever watched a magician perform. What tricks have they seen? Are they really “magic,” or is there usually some logical explanation for how they are done? How do magicians use showmanship to add excitement to their performances? Discuss the use of dramatic capes and costumes as well as colorful props.
    2. Tell students you are going to teach them a magic trick based on a new school of thought in mathematics. While their parents and grandparents probably studied algebra and geometry, they probably never heard of topology. Explain that this branch of mathematics only began to be commonly discussed by mathematicians in the mid 1900’s. It is the study of shapes and spaces as well as of properties that don’t change even when an object is moved, stretched, or distorted. The trick you will teach them is an example of how one of these properties works.
    3. Provide each student with two paper clips and a strip of white paper about 11” – 12” (about 30 cm) long and 2” – 3” (about 7 cm) wide. Since these simple materials are all they will need for their magic act, invite them to transform them into magic show materials with the help of colorful Crayola® markers and colored pencils. Encourage them to experiment with bold colors and interesting textures and designs. Some may wish to include images of things often linked together such as two mittens, a cat and kitten, a parent and child, shoes and socks, etc.
    4. Once coloring is complete, show students a sample strip you have folded ahead of time and ask them to fold their strips in a similar manner. Fold the strip in thirds using an accordion fold. Then set it upright on a flat surface so that it forms a “Z.” There will be three layers of paper. Slip one paper clip over the back two layers and slip a second paper clip over the front two layers keeping the paper clips about an inch apart.
    5. Gently pull the two ends of the strip to unfold it. As the paper clips slide across the surface of the paper they will slip together and fly off magically linked together! If this doesn’t happen, students may have placed the paper clips in the wrong position. Encourage them to practice until they can perform the trick easily and with confidence.
    6. Discuss what mathematical concepts are present in this “trick.”
    7. Encourage students to demonstrate this trick at home telling their parents what they have learned about this new field of mathematics. Some students may wish to “perform” for students in another class as well.
  • Standards

    LA: Present claims and findings, sequencing ideas logically and using pertinent descriptions, facts, and details to accentuate main ideas or themes; use appropriate eye contact, adequate volume, and clear pronunciation.

    LA: Include multimedia components (e.g., graphics, images, music, sound) and visual displays in presentations to clarify information.

    LA: Engage effectively in a range of collaborative discussions (one-on-one, in groups, and teacher-led) with diverse partners on grade level topics and texts, building on others’ ideas and expressing their own clearly.

    MATH: Classify two-dimensional figures into categories based on their properties.

    MATH: Solve real-life and mathematical problems involving angle measure, area, surface area, and volume.

    VA: Students will investigate, plan and work through materials and ideas to make works of art and design.

  • Adaptations

    Encourage students to investigate other magic tricks that are based on mathematical or scientific principles. Invite them to each choose and practice one such trick and put on a magic show for other students. Some may wish to explain the principles behind their tricks while others may wish to maintain a magician’s secrecy!

    Encourage interested students to learn more about topology and report their findings to the class.

    Invite a volunteer to find out what a mobius strip is and prepare a demonstration for the class.

    Invite a volunteer to find out what a mobius strip is and prepare a demonstration for the class.

    Some advanced students may wish to investigate other “new” areas of mathematics such as string theory or game theory.

X

Share this Lesson Plan

  • Creativity.
  • Capacity.
  • Collaboration.
  • Change.
Back to top