• Melissa

Math Puzzles

Jo Boaler, Professor of Mathematics Education at Stanford University, states that one way to encourage mathematical thinking is to give students interesting puzzles to work on. I completely agree. I’m not talking about jigsaw puzzles, although those can be quite fun and thought provoking as well, rather, I mean number problems and number puzzles that challenge thinking and encourage curiosity. Number puzzles can help make math interesting and more tangible for children. They can help children of all ages develop and build reasoning skills. Beyond developing thinking skills, puzzles are a great way to expand math talk or math conversations at home.

Here are three puzzles you can try today. Have fun and see how others around you are thinking about these puzzles. You could even host a math talk or your own via zoom or another virtual platform.

  1. How many squares are there on an 8 x 8 Chess board? (The answer is not 64!)

  2. You have a five liter jar and a three liter jar. You have an unlimited supply of water. How can you measure out four liters exactly?

  3. A rabbit falls into a dry well thirty feet deep. Since being at the bottom of a well was not the rabbit’s original plan, she decides to climb out. When she attempts to do so, she finds that after going up three feet, she slips back two feet. Frustrated, she stops where she is for that day and resumes her efforts the following morning - with the same result. How many days does it take her to get out of the well. (This question is assuming the rabbit jumps up three feet and falls two feet each day.)

Check back at the end of the week for solutions and thinking about these fun riddles.

Do you have a favorite puzzle like the ones above? Feel free to share them here!

Happy puzzle solving!


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