- Topic: Logic: Book: Still More Stories to Solve by G. Shannon, stories 9-10.
- Topics: Simulation, Triangular Numbers: I did a variant of last week’s Star Wars battles activity. This time though, I used Pokemon theme and had 1 big Pokemon (e.g., Charizard) fighting a bunch of small Pokemon (we used small blue cubes, so they were Merills). Each small Pokemon had 1 hit point and 1 attack, and the Charizard had lots of health, e.g., 25, and did 5 damage (but could only attack one Merrill each turn). Each round, the Merrills each do 1 damage to the Charizard and the Charizard kills one Merill. The question was, how many Merills does it take to knock out the Charizard? Once they figured this out, I asked 50 HP and 100 HP. Finally, I changed it so the Charizard also had a fire breath that did 1 damage to all enemies that could be used every 3 turns, but now the Merills didn’t have to all attack at once (some could stay back and be protected from the fire breath). The goal was to figure out how much damage 6 Merills could do.
- Topics: Drawing, Scale: I picked two line drawings from the Internet, scaled them to the size of a sheet of paper, and overload a 12 x 16 grid. Then, I gave each kid a piece of graph paper (with much smaller squares), and asked them to shrink the picture, treating each square on the big picture as one square on their graph paper.
How Did It Go?
We had four kids this week. This circle didn’t go that well — most kids weren’t trying to solve the Pokemon problem, and only a couple kids tried to use the graph paper to shrink the drawing.
Still More Stories To Solve
These two were probably too hard to actually solve. However, it was still interesting to see if they could understand why the solution worked. The second one involved someone making a clever lie to trick another of the characters, and the two characters having different information states. One kid got the idea, but the others didn’t understand the solution — the first kid explained, and I think eventually one of the others understood but I’m not sure the other two ever did.
Only one kid really tried on this activity. They solved the 25 HP problem by trying different numbers of Merills, and I pointed out that 7 + 6 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 2 + 1 is the same as 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 + 5 + 6 + 7. A couple of the kids remembered how to compute this, and I made a chart up to the 7th number. I reminded them that you didn’t need to compute from scratch to get the next triangular number on the chart, and then that kid was able to solve 50 HP and 100 HP. For the advanced version, the one kid tried out a few different strategies for the Merrills and found the best one for 6 Merrills.
Most of the kids didn’t try, one specifically said they didn’t want to use the graph paper and just wanted to copy it. I worked on it as well, as an example of how to do it, hoping they would see how I was doing it. One kid made a good effort to shrink the drawing using the graph paper, two made fairly nice looking, somewhat shrunken copies (but probably only 80% size, rather than 50%), and one drew a different-looking robot. Our daughter said she “loved AND hated” the activity — afterwards she said it was because she liked the robot but the girl was too hard — but I think actually she liked that it involved drawing but thought the shrinking was too hard. I asked her how she could love and hate something, and she said “It’s just like I love and hate Mommy.” (She’s been experimenting with emotions recently).