My kids and I have come to love topology paper tricks such as Möbius strips, Möbius hearts, and turning two circles into a square. When I came across this impossible paper puzzle (sometimes known as the impossible paper trick) I knew the boys would love trying to figure out how it works.
In case you don’t know, topology is a branch of mathematics that is concerned with the study of surfaces, and “properties that are preserved through deformations, twistings, and stretchings of objects.” (via Wolfram MathWorld)
Don’t feel bad, I never learned about it in drama school, either.
I’m not going to pretend I can wrap my head completely around how all these paper tricks work, but I can certainly tell you that they get my kids’ brains whirring, which is always a good thing.
Plus it’s not difficult and you don’t need any special materials or skills. So, hey, why not?
What you need:
- 1 person to perform the trick
- 1 person to be astounded by the trick
- Fold paper in half lengthwise.
- Open paper
- Cut one side in half to center crease. Measurements need not be exact. Just eyeball it.
- Cut the opposite side in thirds to center crease
- Re-crease folds both ways (not strictly necessary, but makes things easier)
- With the 2-cut side facing towards you, place your right thumb under the front right flap. Flip the flap so that your right thumb is now on top of the paper on the far side of the paper. See photos or video if you need help.
- You should now be able to flip the center flap back and forth to reveal the impossible!! You tricky trickster.
The first time you and your kids do this you will probably get all twisted around with the flaps. Not to worry, just keep flappin’ and twistin’ and eventually you’ll get there. Of course I did it perfectly the first time. (cough cough — no I didn’t — cough cough)
Watch the video to see it in action:
So what do you think? Impossible paper puzzle or possible paper puzzle?
More groovy brain teasers:
- Rotational symmetry paper brain teaser
- Tower of Hanoi
- Number puzzler
- T puzzle brain teaser
- Quick brain teaser, perfect for beginners