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ERIC Number: EJ1044633
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2014-Oct
Pages: 6
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: 22
ISSN: ISSN-0025-5769
The Best Friend Mathematics Ever Had
Mulcahy, Colm; Goetz, Albert
Mathematics Teacher, v108 n3 p194-199 Oct 2014
This article begins with three brain teasers, and the answers, provided at the end of the article, may prove surprising. Figuring out why they are correct leads the reader to delightful "aha" moments. The kinds of "aha!" moments that result from solving these challenges for yourself were held in high estimation by the person who arguably made the greatest twentieth-century contribution to getting people of all ages excited about mathematics. Amazingly, he never took a formal class in calculus or, indeed, anything more advanced than what students are studying at the moment. That man was the legendary writer Martin Gardner (1914-2010), the best friend mathematics ever had. October 21, 2014, marks the centennial of Gardner's birth and is the centerpiece of celebrations of his life and legacy. Gardner-themed "Celebration of Mind" ( events are held every year in and around his birthday at hundreds of locations all around the planet. They are free and open to all, and everyone is encouraged to attend or host one. They range from small and informal to large-perhaps involving hundreds of participants- and structured. Teachers in particular will find that such events can be tailored to provide a great opportunity to motivate students. The generous resources online are being expanded for this special year. Many additional activities for stimulating students' interest were made available earlier this year when Mathematics Awareness Month (MAM) was rolled out. Its theme--"Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery"--echoes the title of one of the more than 100 books that Gardner left us. The MAM 2014 materials (, which will continue to be available for teachers and students indefinitely, relate to thirty fun topics inspired by Gardner's writings, especially his long-running "Mathematical Games" columns for "Scientific American." Teachers are encouraged to investigate the MAM 2014 site for many more games and puzzles that will captivate their students and teach them some mathematics at the same time. A combined listing of references and web sites is provided.
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics. 1906 Association Drive, Reston, VA 20191-1502. Tel: 800-235-7566; Tel: 703-620-3702; Fax: 703-476-2970; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: N/A
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A