How do we get kids excited about math? In this age of high tech video games why would a kid want to be excited about math they have to do in their mind or with pencil and paper?

Maybe I am just too old, I remember the days before television and video games, I did get excited about math puzzles. Perhaps one of you video whiz kids can create a game series that uses the old math puzzles to allow players to advance from level to level. Until then, those of us who do care about math and math education have a responsibility to get kids excited about math - these will be the math innovators of the future.

The time to start is when kids are first forming an academic sense of math and how it works. This can be a time of drudgery, or it can be fun. With little more than the ability to do two digit addition we can introduce young minds to the mystery of Magic Squares.

 16 3 2 13 5 10 11 8 9 6 7 12 4 15 14 1

This Magic Square was my introduction to the world of math puzzles. No one knows the origin of this Magic Square but it was one element of a sixteenth century engraving by Düre.* I feel confident that any kid that has reached the second grade should be able to enjoy this puzzle. The magic number here is 34.

There are a multitude of ways to get to 34 by adding combinations of four numbers, these are just a few.

 16 16 13 16 3 10 5 10 7 1 4 1
 3 3 2 5 10 11 12 6 7 14 15 14

Pass this on to a relative or neighbor. This may be the start of a wonderful adventure for some young student.

* - Düre’s engraving Melencolia can be viewed at:

http://www.wga.hu/frames-e.html?/bio/d/durer/biograph.html

You may have to enlarge the portion of the engraving that is to the upper right side. This will be the wall of the building that has the magic square. What I find fascinating is the fact that this engraving was done in they year 1514, note the bottom center numbers of the magic square. Did Düre wait until this year to incorporate this magic square into one of his engravings, and where did he come up with it?