More Math: Resources for Teens & Adults

For those of you who can't wait until the next National Math Festival, we invite you to explore the wonder and beauty of math with these puzzles, games, books, videos, and other mathy treats.

Resources are categorized by age level (All Ages, Kids and Families, Teens and Adults) as well as a selection of Featured Videos. New resources are added each month!

Have a suggestion for us? Share with @natmathfestival on Twitter or send to mathfestival@msri.org!

Math Fun for Teens & Adults

A Dozen Hat Problems (PDF)
In each of these problems, hats of specified colors are placed on players’ heads. Each player can see the colors of some or all of the other player’s hats, but not his own. The goal is to come up with a strategy players can agree on before the game that will allow as many players as possible to correctly guess the colors of their hats. Some of these problems are psychological or philosophical and many are deeply mathematical. At the very least, they are fun to think about!

Adalogical AEnigmas
From The Guardian‘s Alex Bellos: Try your hand at these logic puzzles inspired by Ada Lovelace and designed by Pavel Curtis, a legend in the puzzle community who has a day job as a software architect at Microsoft. The grids are based on Japanese-style logic puzzles like Sudoku and Kakuro, and use similar deductions. Pavel has been releasing new puzzles every month, and you can find more at his website, along with gentle hints for first-time players.

Chevron STEM Zone
Lots of great PDF resources that can change the way you play sports or enjoy watching them by sharing the science and math behind golffootballbaseballbasketball, and ice hockey.

expii solve
Solve is a weekly set of five thought-provoking and interactive math challenges produced by the makers of expii (including 2017 Festival presenter Dr. Po-Shen Loh!). These problems are about having fun and thinking creatively. Each set contains problems of varying difficulty, beginning with the most accessible and ending with the almost impossible. Explore and enjoy!

Hidden Figures: The American Dream and the Untold Story of the Black Women Mathematicians Who Helped Win the Space Race
Before John Glenn orbited the earth, or Neil Armstrong walked on the moon, a group of African-American female mathematicians known as “human computers” used pencils, slide rules and adding machines to calculate the numbers that would launch rockets, and astronauts, into space. The film adaptation of Margot Lee Shetterly’s book debuted in cinemas in January 2017, and you can preview an excerpt from the book.

International Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) Competition
How can mathematics be useful in explaining things happening on a global scale? From biodiversity and resource management to epidemics and climate change, Mathematics of Planet Earth (MPE) is a contest for individuals or groups of individuals, institutions, schools, or nonprofit organizations to develop modules for museums or the web to introduce people to these concepts.

The Manual of Mathematical Magic
Mathematics and magic may seem a strange combination, but many of the most powerful magical effects performed today have a mathematical basis. This free PDF booklet by the Faculty of Science and Engineering at Queen Mary University of London teaches the secrets behind street magic, explained clearly with instructions and videos to help you perform them perfectly. Learn about the math behind each trick and discover how that same mathematics is used to power our modern world!

The Math Inside the U.S. Highway System
Have you ever thought about why certain numbers are assigned to certain highway systems when you travel by car? Around Washington, D.C. you’ll see I-495, I-81, I-66.. but where did these numbers come from? Connecting patterns, associating properties of a number to those of a real world object — that’s what thinking mathematically is all about!

Mathematical Balloon Twisting (PDF)
This booklet by Vi Hart is for anyone interested in learning how to create mathematical shapes using the long tubular balloons designed for creating balloon animals and sculptures. It’s a tricky skill, but with a little practice you can be making your own masterpieces!

Moody’s Math Mega Challenge
Moody’s Mega Math Challenge is a mathematical modeling contest for U.S. high school juniors and seniors (for full eligibility rules, visit the site). Through participation, students gain the experience of working in teams to tackle a real-world problem under time and resource constraints akin to those faced by industrial applied mathematicians. The Challenge is sponsored by The Moody’s Foundation and organized by the Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) and awards $150,000 in scholarships each year. Registration often closes in February.

Numberplay
This New York Times column by Gary Antonick and friends shares weekly math challenges on topics from pop culture to infinity.

The Parable of the Polygons
This game, created by Vi Hart and Nicky Case, is a simulation that shows how small individual bias can lead to large collective bias.

Phyllotactic Spirals and the Art of John Edmark
What do plants know about numbers? A certain spiral pattern commonly seen in sunflowers, pinecones, and many species of cacti contains some surprising numerical properties. In this video, Paul Dancstep of San Francisco’s Exploratorium investigates kinetic sculptures by artist John Edmark.

Mathematical Association of America (MAA)
The Mathematical Association of America (MAA) is the world’s largest community of mathematicians, students, and enthusiasts. MAA has a number of projects that may be of interest to members and the general public alike!

  • Found MathMAA’s website features a new math-related photo every week, where MAA members submit their images taken all over the world on a weekly basis. The deadline for submission is every Friday!
  • Solving Real World ProblemsMath students interested in industrial careers can learn from these case studies that come directly from the real world. Professional mathematicians talk about problems that have come up in their careers, from creating more realistic special effects with computer animation to storing nuclear waste, followed by videos which discuss ways you can use math techniques to tackle these real industrial problems.
  • Math Horizon’s AftermathThese editorial essays on a wide variety of subjects related to math have appeared in Math Horizons, an MAA publication. You can find more blog posts at Devin’s Angle as well!

Varsity Math
Varsity Math is the weekly math puzzle column by the National Museum of Mathematics featured each weekend in the Wall Street Journal.

Visual Patterns
Click on any pattern to see a larger image and the answer to step 43. Can you figure out the equation? These are a great warm-up to problem solving!

Volumes: the MoMath Book Club
Love mathematics and books? This reading group (which meets in New York City) designed especially for those interested in mathematics and science and how it affects our lives. If you’re not in the New York City area, you can still enjoy their reading list of fiction and non-fiction books with math themes!

Why Do Math
Mathematical and computational analyses have proved to be uniquely insightful for solving problems in science, society and our everyday lives. The Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) shares the stories of how math is being used in a wide variety of disciplines and career paths, from space travel to hearing implants and internet search engines.