Mechanical Puzzles - Valuable Educational Resources


by Andy Liu, October 2002

Home / Puzzles in Education / Teachers' Stories /

Math Fair
MATH 160 at the University of Alberta is a contents course for students in Elementary Education. One of the components of the course is a Math Fair. It has three stages. In the first stage, the university students put on a Math Fair for one another. This allows for the rectification of errors and the smoothing over of rough spots. Then the university students take the show on the road to an elementary school, and set up the Math Fair for the kids. Finally, the kids put on a Math Fair on their own.

What makes a good Math Fair project? My colleague Ted Lewis and I, who masterminded this concept, set out two criteria. First, the project must involving problem-solving rather than theory-presentation. Second, the problem should not be the type where the statement is put on a poster, and the participants bring out pencils and papers to work on them. it must be interactive, with movable pieces. In other words, we want a mechanical puzzle.

Students at all level are discouraged from using commercially available products. The university students in particular are taught to steal ideas from books (giving due acknowledgement of course), and turn them into presentable projects. Thus they are involved in the process of inventing mechanical puzzles.

Our success is phenomenal. The list of schools waiting for our classes to visit them grows so long that in recent year, the mountain comes to Mohammed instead. In other words, we rent an auditorium on campus and invite the school to visit our students' Math Fair. However, the numbers of kids involved are so big that we have to rent another facilities so that I can entertain half of them with a lecture while the other half explore the various booths in the Math Fair. Then the two groups switch over halfway through, and I have to deliver the same lecture again.

NEXT: Private Exhibitions

Last Updated: March 28, 2005 top
The SMART Club
BACCHIC Field Trips
Math Fair
Private Exhibitions

< Home   |   Our Privacy Policy   |   About Puzzles.COM   |   Link to Us   |   Contact Us
Copyright 1995-2005 ThinkFun Inc. All Rights Reserved.
ThinkFun - Everybody plays.