I’ve been thinking about more ways to use Martin Weissman’s An Illustrated Theory of Numbers with the boys lately:
Today I was looking for a project with my son and flipped open to the chapter on quadratic reciprocity. It had a few introductory ideas that I thought would be fun to share with my younger son.
We first looked at Wilson’s Theorem:
After Wilson’s theorem, we moved on to talking about perfect squares mod a prime. After a fairly long discussion here my son noticed that half of the non-zero number mod a prime are perfect squares:
Finally, I asked him to make a mod 11 multiplication table and we talked through some of the patterns in the table – including that the non-zero numbers had multiplicative inverses:
It was a really fun discussion today. I know next to nothing about number theory, but I really would like to use Weissman’s book more to explore some advanced ideas with the boys.