n Learning and Teaching Mathematics - Ladders and boxes

Volume 2012, Issue 13
  • ISSN : 1990-6811


Finding problems that students actually enjoy doing can be a challenge. A good place to start might be to consider the problems that previously brought pleasure to you. For me a class of problems that I have enjoyed (and still do) are what Martin Gardiner (Gardiner, 1959, 1961a, 1961b, 1977) called , and I have used such puzzles in the classroom with great success. More often than not these kinds of puzzles are used by teachers for their recreational or 'fun' element, and it is often difficult to see how such puzzles might relate to the school curriculum. In recent times I have been interested in exploring puzzles that can not only be appropriately incorporated into a lesson, but which form an integral part of the lesson. This often requires a slight modification of the original puzzle in order to render it more suitable, a process which can be far from easy. In this article I present a particular type of puzzle based on Pythagorean triples and, through a process of investigation, show how similar puzzles could be constructed.

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