This week’s Puzzle Corner activity challenges students to find the “logic” or rule behind a pricing scheme for wooden letters when given a number of examples. In order to do this, students need to look carefully at the letters and the related costs and try to uncover the pricing logic used and then apply it to a new name and their own last names. The “challenge” name was deliberately chosen to honor Martin Gardner—one of the key figures in recreational mathematics from the 1950s on.

Gardner wrote the “Mathematical Games” column for Scientific American from 1956 to 1981 and has published over 60 books, many of which deal with recreational mathematics—doing math just for the fun of it. Now in his early 90s, Gardner continues to write. Click on the link below to find out more about this amazing man and his great contributions to recreational mathematics.

(Wikipedia—the free online encyclopedia—has a good entry on Martin Gardner.)

I hope that you and your class find this puzzle challenging and enjoyable.

A store sells large individual wooden letters for signs to put on houses. The letters are priced according to a logical rule. Your challenge is to find this rule. Use the information below to help you find the rule and answer the questions. Show your work.

The letters to make the name JONES cost $13.

The letters in SMITH cost $14.

The letters for ORTEGA cost $15.

The letters in VANG cost $11.

How much would the letters in the name GARDNER cost?

What would the letters in your last name cost?

What is the rule that determines the price?

**Solution**

Click the arrow below to view the solution.

The rule was that vowels cost $2.00 apiece and consonants cost $3.00 apiece. Using this rule, the name GARDNER would cost $19.00 (5 consonants x $3.00 plus 2 vowels x $2.00).