Specific Questions about Puzzle Program in Secondary Schools
If you've gotten to this page, it probably means that you're
willing to give us some specific feedback about a Puzzles in
Schools program. Thanks! As with our request on the general page,
we'd like you to respond to
teachers@ThinkFun.com, but respond with all the detail you can
in response to the issues we talk about below.
Our goal is to make puzzles a more integrated part of secondary
school programs. We want to do this because we believe in a number
of principles about puzzles.
First, they enhance problem-solving skills. Puzzles come in all
sorts of forms; to solve them, you can't just apply a formula that
has been taught to you; you've got to think through what the
challenge is, then start experimenting and exploring, begin to
unlock its secrets, and finally, to solve it. When facing a number
of different types of puzzles, solvers have to stretch their
brains in a number of different directions.
Second, good puzzles expand the imagination. A well designed
puzzle should, at some point, appear impossible to the solver. If
students get hit with the experience of thinking "I couldn't
possibly solve this!" and then can work their way through to the
solution, they start building their self esteem and start thinking
of themselves as being empowered. Teachers can use this experience
as a metaphor for approaching more traditional curriculum
And third, puzzles are fun! Many kids will want to play with the
puzzles for their own sake, which could mean that they will play
with them on their own time - over lunch, at recess, at home,
wherever - and thus a puzzle program can fit in with a traditional
curriculum, without necessarily having to take significant
classroom teaching time.
Finally, as a related issue, if students are encouraged to help
each other and work in teams, no one will be left out... everyone
can succeed in solving even tough puzzles that may be over the
heads of some students working alone.
Our first question: does this philosophy ring true to you? Do you
have other ideas that could help us better understand puzzling in
Following are five specific areas that we would like to hear your
ideas about. Please comment on any or all of these.
Cost/Pricing of Puzzles
Larger, more durable puzzles will cost more, and smaller, simpler
puzzles will cost less. What matters to you? Is it better for us
to focus on lower cost, so you can afford to buy more and have
more variety in your classroom, or is it better to focus on higher
end designs that will be more enduring? We're always going to try
to make the best quality possible; but the approach will be
different if we know we have to meet a $5 or $8 price because
budgets are tight. What are your thoughts?