Picasso’s Cuboids (MathPickle, 2016)
This puzzle sequence gives practice in volume calculations. Here is a classroom presentation.
After looking at the presentation above, you may choose instead to use an area variant of the puzzle. In this case, for an integer n, you would be searching for four variables
a ≦ b ≦ c ≦ d
a*b + c*d = n
and c*d is as large as possible.
You may also wish to experiment with a hybrid of volume and area… a ≦ b ≦ c≦ d ≦ e such that a*b*c + d*e = n or a*b + c*d*e = n
Please be the first to email me about how this puzzle worked in your classroom: gord at mathpickle dot com
Standards for Mathematical Practice
MathPickle puzzle and game designs engage a wide spectrum of student abilities while targeting the following Standards for Mathematical Practice:
MP1 Toughen up!
This is problem solving where our students develop grit and resiliency in the face of nasty, thorny problems. It is the most sought after skill for our students.
MP3 Work together!
This is collaborative problem solving in which students discuss their strategies to solve a problem and identify missteps in a failed solution. MathPickle recommends pairing up students for all its puzzles.
MP6 Be precise!
This is where our students learn to communicate using precise terminology. MathPickle encourages students not only to use the precise terms of others, but to invent and rigorously define their own terms.
MP7 Be observant!
One of the things that the human brain does very well is identify pattern. We sometimes do this too well and identify patterns that don't really exist.