Teacher’s Questions for Cool Jobs: Math as Entertainment


Before reading:

  1. This story highlights the work of a visual effects expert, artist and magician. Can you think what sort of background these three experts might share?

During reading:

  1. When Nafees Bin Zafar says, “We have to make this stuff behave correctly,” to what is he referring?
  2. What do the springs in Bin Zafar’s virtual Lego bricks represent?
  3. Do the laws of physics always apply in creating visual effects?
  4. Define “minimal surface.”
  5. Describe the difference between a 2-D and 3-D printer.
  6. What is Bathsheba Grossman’s “secret weapon”?
  7. What is an octahedron?
  8. Explain how a magic square works.
  9. Why does Arthur Benjamin like the number 2,520?

After reading:

  1. Why would understanding the mathematics of how various building materials bend, flex and shake help Bin Zafar in his work?
  2. List some of the advantages of 3-D printing.
  3. Can you create a 3-by-3 magic square, using each of the numbers 1 through 9 only once?


  1. With 3-D printing, an object’s design can be shared as a digital file and then printed out. Can you think of several situations where it would be helpful to share the design for an object with another person elsewhere on (or off!) Earth?