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Summer SAVY 2016 (Session 1, Day 1) – Puzzles and Problem Solving

Posted by on Monday, June 13, 2016 in Grade 3, Grade 4, SAVY.

The Puzzles and Problem Solving class first investigated the Ultimatum Game ( and the Prisoner’s Dilemma (’s_dilemma). The students then played a 2-player card game, attempting to determine the winning strategy. The problem goes like this:

“Given a deck of 21 cards, players alternate turns by taking one, two, or three cards (that is, you must take at least one but cannot take more than three). The winner of the game is the person who takes the final card. Is there a strategy you could use that would guarantee you would win?”

Students played this game several times and noticed patterns and important situations as they arose. Once the initial problem was solved, we changed the problem in many ways (including introducing some abstract concepts!) to continue to develop our understanding of the prompt. Some of these extensions remained elusive today, although the students were making good progress!

Later in the day, we worked on a couple of puzzles where one has to successfully transport people or objects across barriers given certain restrictions. Students ended up being very successful in getting a wolf, goat, and cabbage over to the other side of the river. Getting the Beatles to their concert on time proved much more challenging (including a few exclamations of “This is impossible!)”, but one group did manage to solve the problem! We will return to it later in the week.

At the very end of the day, we had a brief introduction to the game of ZipZap, a counting game with strange rules that will often be our wrap-up to a long day of class. We were just practicing counting today, and students were getting the hang of it as we went along.

In general, I was so impressed by student interest and enthusiasm today. Several students really did not want to take breaks but instead wanted to spend the entire break talking to me about some of the problems we were tackling. I appreciate all of the positive energy that they bring to the classroom, and I look forward to the rest of the week!

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