Tag Archives: Problem Solving

Fifth Graders Investigate a Mathematical Code

How much tolerance do you have for puzzlement? When faced with a mathematical conundrum, do you embrace the challenge, or do you feel some trepidation at confronting the unknown? For many of us, an unfamiliar mathematical task is sure to raise our heart rate a beat or two. As teachers, it’s easy to translate these fears … Continue Reading ››

Deducing the “Mystery” Fraction

Estimation is an important mathematical skill, yet we rarely ask students to make estimates that relate to fractions. As part of the Dynamic Number project, we created a "mystery" fraction challenge  that presents a green point somewhere between 0 and 1 on the number line. The point's location can be represented as a fraction with … Continue Reading ››

Algebra Cross Number Puzzles

In my previous post, I wrote about cross number puzzles—puzzles that mix arithmetic and logic to introduce students to place value, commutativity, and the addition and subtraction algorithms. Now, I'd like to present a variant of cross number puzzles that adds some algebra to the mix. Below (and here on its own page) are … Continue Reading ››

Cross Number Puzzles

We live in a golden age of number puzzles. Sudoku is probably the most famous of all modern-day number puzzles, but there are many Japanese puzzles that are also gaining popularity, such as KenKen and Menseki Meiro. In this post, I'd like to introduce a number puzzle for young learners that predates … Continue Reading ››

Digging Deep Into Varignon’s Theorem

In the interactive websketch below (and here on its own page), ABCD is an arbitrary quadrilateral whose midpoints form quadrilateral EFGH. Drag any vertex of ABCD. What do you notice about EFGH? The midpoint quadrilateral theorem, attributed to the French mathematician Pierre Varignon, is relatively new in the canon of geometry theorems, dating to 1731. Mathematics educator Chris Pritchard … Continue Reading ››

Revisiting the Isosceles Triangle Challenge

In my last post, I presented a lovely geometry problem from Japan that was ideally suited to a dynamic geometry approach. Below is a new problem whose construction is nearly identical to the original one. The text says, "Five isosceles triangles have their bases on one line, and there are 10 rhombi. One length of the rhombus … Continue Reading ››

A Geometry Challenge from Japan

Here is a wonderful geometry problem from Japan: The five triangles below are all isosceles. The quadrilaterals are all rhombi. The shaded quadrilateral is a square. What is the area of the square? I wondered at first whether the English translation of the problem was correct because with so many side … Continue Reading ››

Stars, Polygons, and Multiples

I've always found my collaborations with teachers to be a great inspiration for curriculum development, and that was especially true of my work with Wendy Lovetro, an elementary-school teacher in Brooklyn, NY. Wendy coordinated an after-school math club at her school, and I used the setting as an opportunity to develop and field test Sketchpad activities for the … Continue Reading ››