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Friday math movie: Donald in Mathmagic Land

By Murray Bourne, 25 Jan 2013

Here's a 1959 classic from Walt Disney.

Donald Duck learns how math arose out of music (the Pythagoreans), art and architecture (the Greeks), nature (the Golden Ratio gets a good plug), games (vectors, angles) and of course, science and engineering.

As the commentator says when taking conic sections:

"No matter how you slice it, you always get mathematics."

And a bit later:

"These are the doors to the future. And the key to the doors is mathematics."

In the 1950s and 1960s, science had a higher profile than it does today. I can't imagine too many animation houses producing such a video today.

So here is Donald in Mathmagic Land (27 min).

YouTube took down this video because it violated copyright. Sorry about that.

See the 5 Comments below.

5 Comments on “Friday math movie: Donald in Mathmagic Land”

  1. Philip Petrov says:

    I wonder why in my country the TV stations tend to focus on idiotic cartoons which are all in the form of "anvil falling on the head of... hahahah" instead of focusing on those classics. Don't get me wrong - it's not "new versus old" cartoons. They just skip the reasonable cartoons out there on the market and prefer to show the totally dumb instead. Only the national television (BNT) will eventually show something reasonable to the kids but that's all.

    As for "math cartoons", I remembered this one - the dot and the line:

  2. Murray says:

    @Philip: Thanks for sharing The Dot and the line - I hadn't seen that one before!

  3. Richard Seymour says:

    I agree with you. I think that more of these production houses need to look into bringing movies like these back. They're fun. They're informative. You would think, what's the holdup? Try checking out It's not exactly a movie, but there are a lot of videos produced by kids breaking down a lot of different math subjects! Just as interesting, I'd say.

  4. Stephanie says:

    Hi, Murray,

    We need more of these movies! That was part of the inspiration for my new project.

    I came across your blog via David Wees, and as a fellow mathematics educator I thought you might be able to help in spreading the word about an educational TV show for preteens about math that we're putting together. "The Number Hunter" is a cross between Bill Nye The Science Guy and The Crocodile Hunter -- bringing math to children in an innovative, adventurous way. I’d really appreciate your help in getting the word out about the project.

    I studied math education at Jacksonville University and the University of Florida. It became clear to me during my studies why we’re failing at teaching kids math. We're teaching it all wrong! Bill Nye taught kids that science is FUN. He showed them the EXPLOSIONS first and then the kids went to school to learn WHY things exploded. Kids learn about dinosaurs and amoeba and weird ocean life to make them go “wow”. But what about math? You probably remember the dreaded worksheets. Ugh.

    I’m sure you know math is much more exciting than people think. Fractal Geometry was used to create “Star Wars” backdrops, binary code was invented in Africa, The Great Pyramids and The Mona Lisa, wouldn’t exist without geometry.
    Our concept is to create an exciting, web-based TV show that’s both fun and educational.

    If you could consider posting about the project on your blog, I’d very much appreciate it. Also, if you'd be interested in link exchanging (either on The Number Hunter site, which is in development, or on which is a well-established site with 300,000 page views a month) please shoot me an email. We're also always looking for input and ideas from other math educators!

    Thanks in advance for your help,

    [email protected]

  5. justgord says:

    That is so awesome.. Donald in Mathland was the video that really hooked me on maths when I was about 9 years old.

    My son loves Minecraft, and talking to another math edu geek.. we thought that might be a nice way to discuss Volume. [ eg. approximating curved shapes with cubes by crafting things up in the game world ]

    What would Lebesgue do ?

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