This activity page will offer:
minds-on and hands-on experience in puzzle solving
opportunity to apply and sharpen critical thinking skills
arena to think out of the box
opportunity to create a puzzling challenge
Recent research suggests that puzzle solving may be more than just
a pleasant hobby or pastime. It may have a therapeutic role in preventing
or at last delaying senility. Puzzles often require novel or creative
approaches to examining situations. This engages a robust series
of brain cell connections. Here is an assortment of puzzles that
should not only entertain and challenge you, but also stimulate
the growth and health of your brain cell.
Check out the triangle presented here. Although it has no mystic
powers, it's called a magic triangle. The magic lies in your mathematical
insight. Using the digits 1 through 6, fill in the empty circles.
Place a different digit in each circle so that the sum (three circle
values added) of any is equal to the sum of any other side. In other
words, all three sides will have the same sum when their circle
values are added together.
By the Slice
Imagine a large round pizza that has just come out of the oven.
Using only three cuts, how can you divide this pie into eight equal
pieces? HINT: Don't worry about the mess!
toothpicks in the pattern shown here. Remove six toothpicks and
leave only three complete squares behind. HINT: the squares can
be of any size.
six toothpicks are arranged to form two equal-sized triangles. Reposition
these toothpicks to form four triangles that are the same size as
these two original triangles. HINT: Think outside of the box (and
outside of the plane).
Suppose you need to measure 1 cup of water. You have only two containers.
The smaller container holds 3 cups. The larger container holds 5
cups. What strategy can you use to measure out exactly 1 cup of
water using these two containers?
A bread mold grows on a slice of bread that has an exposed surface
of 10 cm by 10 cm. The mold grows only upon this exposed surface
and doubles in size every day. On day 28, the colony has expanded
to cover the entire exposed surface of the bread. On what day was
half the surface covered?
Your Own Puzzle
Do you think you can create your
own puzzle? It may not be as diffficult as you think. Consider the
parts of a puzzle. How does the "trick" fit into the strategy for
solving a puzzle? Take another look at the previous puzzles. What
tricks, novel solutions, or "exceptions to the rules" might be applicable
to the creation of a new puzzle? Create a new puzzle scenario and
share it with classmates.
Teasers for Education and Fun
An assortment of grade 7-12 brainteasers, riddles, and lateral thinking
An assortment of online jigsaw puzzles.
A free online puzzle book with all sorts of puzzles and math thinking
Advisors for this Guide:
Suzanne Panico, Science Teacher Mentor, Cambridge Public Schools,
Anne E. Jones, Science Department, Wayland Middle School, Wayland,
Gary Pinkall, Middle School Science Teacher, Great Bend Public Schools,
Great Bend, KS
Cam Bennet Physics/Math Instructor Dauphin Regional Comprehensive
Secondary School Dauphin, MB Canada