Photo by Arek Dakessian
If there’s an event to best exemplify Innovative Learning Week, it was Monday’s Maths and Magic Workshop, organised (obviously enough) by the School of Maths. What I hope to gain from ILW events is how to use my classroom knowledge in other unique ways, and nothing spelled (get it?) this out more than using basic maths to do magic tricks!The fantastic workshop was led by Julia Collins and Robert Gower from the Maths department. They made the event truly special with their engaging enthusiasm. Robert looked the part of a magician in a bow-tie and vest, and Julia complemented this in a star-patterned dress. Of course, you can’t have a magic workshop without a magic wand, and in this case, it was a lightsaber toy that became a highlight of the event. If ever a trick didn’t work out at first, the group would shout out ‘We need the wand’, and Robert would get out the lightsaber, and sure enough, its magic blue light and Star Wars sound effects would do the trick!
The first thing we were told during the workshop was to ‘keep the magician’s code,’ so under oath, I can’t tell you the secrets to the tricks I learned; instead, I’ll just give a non-spoiler recap of what we did. In the two hour session, we learned eight tricks, most of them using a standard deck of cards, a few just number based. We were first shown the trick and then asked in small groups to work out how maths was used to do these tricks before Julia and Robert explained it to us. As a non-maths student, I could not easily figure out the maths behind them, but I was quite impressed by the other students there who could. The workshop was mainly maths and engineering students, but as advertised, this event could really be enjoyed by all students. So if there’s something to take away from my experience, it’s that you should always take the opportunity during ILW to step outside your comfort zone and explore other departments!