In 2019, the Discovery Diaries community lost one of our most valued collaborators, Professor Peter McOwan. Peter was involved in every diary project to some degree, offering support, advice and expertise on the design of the puzzles. He held a number of esteemed academic positions, including head of public engagement at Queen Mary University of London, but he was always so generous with his time. We could email him any time of day and be sure of a response within a few hours. At times I wondered if, being a robotics expert, he’d built himself a clone to answer his emails! Such was his amazing efficiency.
Some time after we started working with Peter, I came across a project he’d done with some friends, Matt Parker and Jason Davison, called Mathematical Magic. In a series of tricks using playing cards, Peter, Matt and Jason reveal the magic of maths. But there’s more to it than maths! These tricks also involve some sneaky storytelling and brain trickery that are fascinating in terms of how we hear and process information. The video below is a great example. This project immediately struck me as such a great way to engage children in maths in a fun, interactive and relaxed way. This was very much Peter’s style.
We are very lucky to have had the chance to work with Peter and grateful to fellow space educators Heather Macrae and Lucy Hawking for the initial introduction.
To find out more about his work you can read our interview with Peter McOwan and download the activities from the diaries that Peter is featured in.