PhD: what if it were puzzles?

Posted on August 7, 2017


Lots of folks think that algebra and math NEED TO BE RELEVANT for students to be motivated to learn it, and all kinds of efforts are made to develop “real world” things to solve.

While I think this is a worthwhile path, I appreciated somebody (if I can remember who, I’ll edit) who broadened “relevant” to include, basically, fun and/or interesting.   This would include puzzles.

I just saw stars and squares as variables this suggested as a path towards linear equations with two variables.   While this would be quickly shoved into the “it’s math, whatever” category by many of  my students, I wonder wonder wonder how they’d respond to a simpler one — say, an a + b = 12 and a-b = 2…. then a + b = 12 and a-b = 3… and how important the little stars and boxes would be (as opposed to a and b).   Lots of times when they can use trial and error, they will engage.

It isn’t often that I want a chance to teach a classroom of students 😉

… and.. one could use it like the “mystery box” in The BEarded Math Man’s explanation of solving equations for equations with one variable, too.   Use two stars for 2x …