Fawn Nguyen shares a really neat Math Forum problem

Well, I made it exactly one day into the school year without copying something Fawn Nguyen posted.  That probably beat the over under . . . .

Cool problem, and one that I asked the kids to work on for part of their homework today. We talked through how they approached the problem when I got home from work.  We started with just the problem statement to make sure that they understood it. As I twitter-discussed with Fawn yesterday, reading this problem carefully is really important:

Next we moved on to how they thought about the problem. The first thing they did was look at what possible sequences of numbers might be on the chips. It was interesting to me to see that they wanted to check all sums for each sequence rather than just checking the high and the low sums.

Having found the sequence, we moved on to finding the numbers that were on each chip. Their approach to finding the first number was pretty clever and pretty quick, but after the first number we hit an unexpected stumbling block. My younger son picked a sum that added up to 17, but it was inconsistent with the first number we’d found. Hmmm – I hadn’t seen this little twist coming.

My older son found a way around this first little problem and we ended up with an arrangement that seemed to work. But, having seen the problem with 17 I thought I’d ask them a few more questions. Although there was still a little bit of confusion about the numbers on the  chips, hopefully these extra questions went a little way towards helping them understand their solution a little bit better:

The boys definitely had a lot of fun working through this problem today – thanks to Fawn Nguyen and the Math Forum for sharing it.

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