Demystifying computing with magic

Daniel D. Garcia, David Ginat

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingConference contributionpeer-review

Abstract

One of the most important tasks an introductory computing student must do is to form a mental model of how the computer works. This could be as specific as understanding the read-evaluate-print loop of an interpreter, or as general as believing that the computer works predictably and deterministically. However, some have fuzzy mental models, or worse, sincerely believe that the computer works unpredictably, "by magic". We seek to demystify computing for these students using analogy, by showing them something that even magic itself isn't really mystical, it is just computation. Magic is one of the most colorful examples of "unplugged" (i.e., without-computer, active learning) activities. It adds a unique facet in that it holds a hidden secret that an audience can be challenged to unfold. Once solved, students are often enthusiastic to perform the magic in front of others. In this session, we will share a variety of magic tricks whose answer is grounded in computer science: modulo arithmetic, permutations, algorithms, binary encoding, probability, etc. For each trick, we will have an interactive discussion of its underlying computing fundamentals, and tips for successful showmanship. Audience participation will be critical, for helping us perform the magic, discussing the solution, and contributing other magic tricks.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGCSE'12 - Proceedings of the 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Pages83-84
Number of pages2
DOIs
StatePublished - 2012
Event43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE'12 - Raleigh, NC, United States
Duration: 29 Feb 20123 Mar 2012

Publication series

NameSIGCSE'12 - Proceedings of the 43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Conference

Conference43rd ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE'12
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityRaleigh, NC
Period29/02/123/03/12

Keywords

  • card tricks
  • computational thinking
  • magic
  • unplugged activities

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