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Summer SAVY 2017, Session 1/Day 4- Puzzles and Problem Solving (Rising 4th/5th)

Posted by on Thursday, June 15, 2017 in SAVY blog.

I was so impressed with the students’ work on the Pirate Problem this morning! This is a problem that my (much!) older students often struggle with, and this class just tackled the issues head on and found a solution. It was amazing to see their enthusiasm as they neared the answer and weren’t ready to be finished with the problem.

As I have said many times, the answer to the original problem often just raises more questions, and we began investigating what would happen if we added more pirates to the picture. The original problem had 5 pirates, and we had extended the problem to 6 pirates before lunch. I told the students to expect further extensions (with shocking results!) tomorrow!

After lunch, we spent some time looking at rebus puzzles. An example of a rebus puzzle would be “STA4NCE,” where students noticed the four inside the word stance and were able to translate that to the phrase “for instance” (four in stance). Some of these were much more challenging, and some students took the opportunity to create their own. I loved seeing their creativity!

We also interacted with the Monty Hall Problem ( Students paired off and worked together to simulate 20 trials of this problem, 10 trials where they stuck with the original door and 10 where they switched to the new door. We compiled all of our data as a class. Sticking won 30% of the time, and switching won 64% of the time.

We then spent some time working with a Monty Hall simulator ( that allows you to vary the number of doors. This simulator was created by one of my professors at Vanderbilt who now teaches at Wofford. The members of the “goat army” were very surprised to see that I once managed to pick the correct door out of the 200 available. Of course that meant we lost, as we were playing the percentages!

It is hard to believe that class is almost over! There are so many things that I want to do tomorrow, and I wish we would have time for them all. There are also a few loose ends to tie up from our previously investigated problems, and we will study at least two new problems. I look forward to meeting many parents and guardians tomorrow at Open House, and I am excited to share some of the awesome things these students have done this week!

Mr. Gray

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