Wednesday, April 25, 2018

4/24 Tic Tac Toe (Naughts and Crosses)

Today started with some administrative tasks. 

  • I had the kids who went to the Quiz bowl talk about their experience and whether it was worth repeating. The consensus is that its fun (although  not particularly math related) So I'd like to figure out a way to do this more next year without sacrificing any club time. The best option would be to spin off another ASB club but that requires another sponsor and quite a bit of leg work.
  • I also asked about the Purple Comet Meet. Again the kids also really enjoyed it so we will do it again next year.
  • A quick review of last week's Problem of the Week.

I had two main goals for the day day: go over a few problems from the Purple Comet meet so kids could see solutions to problems they hadn't figured out or alternatively have a chance to present a solution they found to the group.   I figured that 3 questions would be about the right number from a focus perspective.  

I projected the problem set on the board and the kids chose numbers 4,9 and 20 to look at as a group. The best discussion was on the first problem where we had 3 different solutions presented. On the last I really wanted to draft a usually shy kid to draw the diagram on the board but he was very adamant about not wanting to do so. I didn't insist and had another kid do it instead. I'm going to think more about the best way to do this is. Is it enough to have kids participate in groups with each other or is it important to strongly encourage them to also talk in front of everyone?  As a first step I intend to privately chat and see if I can get him to volunteer in future weeks.

Then for contrast I wanted some game or puzzle to do for the remainder of the time which I assumed we would be around 20-30 minutes.    My problem was I didn't have any solid ideas in mind and on a lark I mentioned that on twitter. In a very affirming moment I received a bunch of interesting suggestions:

A theme emerged around variants of tic-tac-toe that I thought would work very well.

I ended up with 3 versions to have the kids try:

  1. Tic-Tac-Toe on a torus
  2. Ben Orlin's  ultimate Tic Tac Toe.   which is  done with a grid of 3x3 tic tac toe games. This was probably the favorite version for the room.

3. David Butler's 4D Tic-Tac-Toe I had mostly run out of time so we just barely described the rules which are a bit complex.

Overall these were a big hit.  Middle schoolers still find the game fun and I had a few kids I literally had to shoo out of the room past our closing time.

Problem of the Week:
I'm still in a purple comet meet mood so I took a mid-level problem from a previous year that I liked:

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