# Author Archives: Dave Youngs

### Snip and Clip

This week’s puzzle is an adaptation of a trick I found in Perplexing Puzzles and Tantalizing Teasers by Martin Gardner, perhaps the greatest living proponent of recreational mathematics. This wonderful book includes many tricks, puzzles, word problems, and brain teasers appropriate for upper elementary students. In the trick presented in this book, Gardner, who is also a… Continue Reading

### Toothpick Puzzlers

This week’s activity consists of five related puzzles that should challenge students. Matchstick (I have substituted toothpicks) puzzles have been a staple feature of recreational mathematics for years. The puzzles presented here were adapted from some that appeared in The Moscow Puzzles by Boris Kordemsky (available from Dover Publications, Inc.) This type of puzzle often requires patience… Continue Reading

### Similar Shapes

In mathematics, two figures that have the same shape, but not necessarily the same size are similar. The challenge in this puzzle is to draw in lines to divide the large shape below into four smaller similar shapes. Solution Click the arrow below to view the solution. If you’re interested in more fun puzzles check… Continue Reading

### Puzzling Over Prices

The Puzzle Corner activity this week is a thought puzzle that presents an interesting paradox. Solving it will require some divergent thinking on the part of your students. Puzzles like this one appeal to some people, but frustrate others. It is my hope that when students solve this puzzle, or see how it is solved by others,… Continue Reading

### The Frustrated Farmer

This week’s puzzle has been around for many years. It is one of a family of puzzles which have varying degrees of difficulty. These puzzles usually have three common characteristics. First, they all involve getting something across a river (or pond) in a boat. Second, one or more of the things in each puzzle is… Continue Reading

### Three in a Row

Three in a Row is a two-person game played on a 3 x 3 square grid using six markers. Each player needs three markers which can be easily distinguished from those of the other player. Coins, beans, buttons, checkers, math chips, or any other small manipulatives will all work well. The object of the game is… Continue Reading

### Möbius Mysteries

Puzzle Question How can you explain the apparent paradox of the double Möbius strips? Materials Scratch paper Scissors Tape Student sheets Puzzle Background The Möbius loop is a topological surface first discovered by August Ferdinand Möbius in 1858. Möbius was a mathematician and professor of astronomy whose work in topology revolutionized the field of non-Euclidean geometry. A… Continue Reading

### The 36 ‘Picks Puzzle

This puzzle comes from a rich historical tradition that dates back to the 19th century when matches were first manufactured. Invented in 1827 by the British chemist John Walker, matches soon replaced the tinder boxes and flints that people had formerly used to light fires. As matches grew in popularity and became ubiquitous later in… Continue Reading

### Shape It Up

The Puzzle Corner this week comes from the great American puzzle genius of a century ago, Sam Loyd, and was originally published with the name “The Royal Road to Mathematics.” Shape It Up, as we have renamed it, is similar to tangrams, but uses only five pieces that are all different from each other, unlike the seven tangram… Continue Reading

### It’s a Snap!

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity is an adaptation of a classic puzzle from recreational mathematics. It is traditionally posed as a thought problem to be worked out in your head; as such, it is moderately difficult. However, I have found that many elementary school children can solve this puzzle -if they have manipulatives to make it concrete.… Continue Reading