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An Introduction to Recreational Math: Fun, Games, and Puzzles

Explore and enjoy 'recreational' math, while boosting your creative and deductive thinking skills.

23,902 enrolled on this course

Family at math puzzle and game escape room

An Introduction to Recreational Math: Fun, Games, and Puzzles

23,902 enrolled on this course

  • 3 weeks

  • 2 hours per week

  • Digital certificate when eligible

  • Introductory level

Find out more about how to join this course

Get an introduction to the fun, games and puzzles of recreational math

Math doesn’t have to be boring or difficult. In fact learning about recreational math can not only enhance your creative thinking but it can be exciting and useful in daily life.

During this course you will challenge your brain and have fun while learning about the math of various entertaining subjects such as magic squares, puzzles and games. You will also learn about famous recreational mathematicians.

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Skip to 0 minutes and 5 seconds A mathematician is an adventurer, an explorer in an imaginary world full of secrets, equipped only with an inquisitive mind and a twinkle in his eye. Hello, I’m Dr. Yossi Elran and I’m here to help you find out that math is really, really cool! I mean, really cool! This course is an introduction to recreational math. Recreational math is in my mind the absolutely ideal way to enjoy math. First of all, you don’t need much prerequisites. Anyone with only the most basic math skills can do it! Second, you can get into it really fast! and third, it’s real fun.

Skip to 0 minutes and 45 seconds If you want to find out about Lewis Carol and the math in Alice in Wonderland, learn about magic squares, challenge yourself with puzzles galore, play some wacky tic-tac-toe games, or discover the dark mathematical secrets behind some of the world’s best magic tricks, we’re in for a real treat. Click on Join to join!


  • Week 1

    What is recreational math? Meet some recreational mathematicians

    • Who are we and what do we want?

      This activity is for us to get to know each other and set the stage for the course.

    • What is recreational math?

      In this activity we will try and answer the question: "what is recreational math?" As we will see, there is not a simple answer to this question...

    • Some famous recreational mathematicians

      In this activity, we will learn about some of the important, historical and contemporary people involved in recreational math.

  • Week 2

    The rich worlds of mathematical puzzles

    • Problems, puzzles and mechanical puzzles

      In this activity, we will be introduced to some famous puzzles and problems, and see some archetypical mechanical puzzles

    • Logic puzzles

      In this activity, we will learn about logic puzzles.

    • Cryptarithms, Soduku and more

      In this activity we will learn about some other kinds of puzzle, like Sudoku, Secret Codes and Cryptarithms.

  • Week 3

    Mathematical games

    • The game of Nim

      In this activity we will learn about a mathematical game called called ‘Nim’

    • Tic-tac-toe

      In this activity we will learn about the math behind tic-tac-toe

    • The Game of Life

      In this activity we will learn about John Conway’s Game of Life

    • Course summary

      Course summary

When would you like to start?

Start straight away and join a global classroom of learners. If the course hasn’t started yet you’ll see the future date listed below.

  • Available now

Learning on this course

On every step of the course you can meet other learners, share your ideas and join in with active discussions in the comments.

What will you achieve?

By the end of the course, you‘ll be able to...

  • Improve your problem solving and out-of-the-box thinking skills
  • Collect tools, materials and ideas for fun recreational math activities
  • Collaborate with other learners, puzzlists and math enthusiasts on fun math activities

Who is the course for?

The course is designed for anyone who enjoys popular science, recreational maths and solving maths puzzles and crosswords. There are no particular requirements. It will be especially useful for parents or teachers looking to inspire a love of math and do fun math activities with young people.

Who will you learn with?

I'm a recreational mathematician and metagrobologist and head our institute's technology in education unit. I have a Ph.D. in theoretical quantum chemistry, and think math and science are really cool!

Who developed the course?

Davidson Institute of Science Education at the Weizmann Institute of Science

The Weizmann Institute of Science is one of the world’s leading multidisciplinary basic research institutions in the natural and exact sciences. The Davidson Institute of Science Education is the educational arm of the Weizmann Institute.

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Ways to learn

Choose the best way to learn for you!

Subscribe & save


For the first two months. Automatically renews

Develop skills to further your career

  • Access to this course
  • Access to 1,000+ courses
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Digital certificate when you're eligible

Cancel for free anytime

Buy this course

$79/one-off payment

Fulfill your current learning need

  • Access to this course
  • Learn at your own pace
  • Discuss your learning in comments
  • Tests to boost your learning
  • Printed and digital certificate when you’re eligible

Limited access


Sample the course materials

  • Access expires 1 Jan 2024

Find out more about certificates, Unlimited or buying a course (Upgrades)

T&Cs apply.

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  • Learn through a mix of bite-sized videos, long- and short-form articles, audio, and practical activities
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  • Experience the power of social learning, and get inspired by an international network of learners
  • Share ideas with your peers and course educators on every step of the course
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  • Complete 90% of course steps and all of the assessments to earn your certificate

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