Shrinking Square Challenge

Shrinking Square Challenge

This week’s Puzzle Corner activity is a seemingly simple one that may prove more difficult than one might expect. In it, students place four pennies on the corners of the square pictured. They are then challenged to move only two of the coins to create a new square that is smaller than the original. Most students will need to… Continue Reading

Linking Bridges

Linking Bridges

In this week’s puzzle students are presented with a page showing several islands that are all numbered. The challenge is to connect all of the islands with bridges so that the number on the island corresponds to the number of bridges going to it or from it. Additionally, other rules must be followed, including that… Continue Reading

Snip and Clip

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

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

Möbius Mysteries

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