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Quote Puzzler, Tile Puzzler, and The Problem Site. Browse the
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Latest Product Reviews
Review by Jeorge
When I was in high school, back in the eighties, the big event each year for math students (aside from the ARML competition) was the AHSME, or American High School Mathematics Examination.
Since then the competition has undergone some changes, including a change of name; it is now called the American Mathematics Competition, or AMC.
Another change is that the competition now permits the use of calculators (as of 1994).
Thus, the types of problems you will find in the 1995 - 2000 Contest Problem Book are different from previous years' books, since now problems must be written in such a way that they do not become trivial when approached with a calculator.
The forward of the book gives an example of a problem which, when tackled with a graphing calculator, appears at a glance to have one solution, but when approached by more "conventional" means, gives a different solution.
Rating by Jeorge
Why Puzzles And Problem Solving Are So Important
This brief article on the importance of problem solving was originally posted at The Problem Site. Many
years later, the article still accurately describes the needs of students in our educational system today.
Students can learn through constant repetition and practice. I still remember
problem after problem after problem which used the quadratic formula to solve
second degree equations. By the time I was done, I could have solved quadratic
equations in my sleep!
However, being able to solve quadratic equations in my sleep isn't very
practical. Actually, being able to solve them while awake isn't all that
practical either--if I can't figure out how to reduce a problem to a
That is why it is crucial that students be faced with a wide variety of
problems which require them to use what they know in different (even
unexpected) ways. Unfortunately, many students would rather do 15 problems
which all use the same process to solve, than to solve 5 problems which each
require a different method. The 15 may be more boring, but once you've got one,
you've got them all!
When faced with problems unlike any they've seen before, many of your students
will be quick to give up. 'I don't know how to do this,' or 'I don't get it,'
or 'You didn't tell us how to do this kind of problem,' will be common
comments. How do you keep students from giving up prematurely, when they know
all the content they need to solve the problem? It is certainly un uphill
battle, and one which cannot be fought overnight.
One effective method is to engage students in competitions. These may be
competitions internal to your classroom, or contests in which your students
compete against students in other schools. Competitions give students a reason
to keep trying a problem in different ways. The idea of 'beating' another
student can give students that extra impetus they need to keep working on a
It's also important to give students a good 'mix' of repetitive and 'challenge'
problems. Students who have nothing but challenge problems will quickly get
frustrated. But students who have nothing but repetitive, 'drill' type problems
will not develop the ability to apply what they have learned to new situations.
Giving your students a 'problem of the week' is a great way to help add to help
maintain a balance of problems.
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About The Reviewers
The product reviewers at The Puzzler Store are all
members at either The Problem Site, Quote Puzzler, or
These are puzzle enthusiasts who know what they're talking about when it comes to good
puzzles, mysteries, games, and educational resources!
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