A while back I posted a five triangle puzzle that involved putting together five 30-60-90 triangles to form a single triangle. Of all of the dozens of puzzles that I own and have made over the years, that is one of my favorites because of the opportunities it provides for students to think about important mathematical ideas.
Another puzzle with these qualities is one a colleague and I found at a math conference. On a table in the booth across from the AIMS booth where we were working was what looked like a wooden puzzle. Being curious, we asked the person in the booth what he knew about it. He claimed to know nothing about it and didn’t even seem to know how it got there. We made note of the pieces and later that day made a paper version of the puzzle for each of us. Having only the puzzle pieces and no instructions or hint as to what the puzzle might be about, we set about trying to figure it out. If you click on the video I will show you the pieces and tell you one of the challenges we saw in these puzzle pieces.
Okay, now you know the challenge. Using all of the pieces, can you put them together to form one large square? Here is a black line master with the five squares that you can print out.
I will come back with a follow-up post to talk some more about the puzzle and to look at some additional challenges and the math that is there to be explored. Click here for some helpful hints and an extension.