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Lockers: An Open-and-Shut Case

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A classic Math Circle problem! At a large high school, there are 10000 lockers. The lockers are numbered, in order, 1, 2, 3, . . . , 10000, and to start, each locker is closed. There are also 10000 students, also numbered 1, 2, 3, . . . , 10000. The students walk the length of the corridor, opening and closing lockers according to a set of rules. How many lockers remain open? Which lockers? What if the rules were slightly different? Can you manipulate the rules to obtain specific outcomes? This collection of nine locker problems is suitable for...

Match or No Match

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In this session, participants will explore the Match-No Match game: two players each draw one chip out of a bag – if the color of the chips match Player 1 wins, if not Player 2 wins. Under what conditions is this a fair game? How do we know? How can we construct a fair game? What variations of this game are possible? Participants will explore these questions to determine how this game connects to other mathematical problems.

Mathematical Games

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This session includes 15 games using manipulatives or paper and pencil. The goal is to decide which one of the two players has a winning strategy. To solve a game means to find a winning, or a non-losing, strategy for one of the players. An answer must include a detailed description of such strategy, and you have to explain what the winning player should do so that this player wins regardless of his opponent’s moves.

These games may be presented as a single circle session, or individually in a circle or classroom.

Pigeonhole Principle and Parity Problems

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The pigeonhole principle states that if n pigeons are put into m cubbies, with n > m, then at least one cubby must contain more than one pigeon. Parity problems deal with odd and even integers. Here is a collection of problems that can be used in a single problem solving session, or as individual teaser questions.

Problems are suitable for a math circle or classroom.

Place Value Problems

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In this session, we’ll learn how to solve problems related to place value. This is one of the fundamental concepts in arithmetic, something every elementary and middle school mathematics teacher should understand profoundly. Several example puzzles are followed by a rich selection of over 30 additional problems to explore.

This collection of place value problems is suitable for student circles, teacher circles, or the classroom.

Probability

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Some probability problems can be solved by drawing a picture; this approach is sometimes called geometric probability. Other approaches can include experimentation, looking at smaller cases, looking at extreme cases, recursion, or carefully listing possibilities.

This session includes ten problems that can be explored alone or in sets, providing material for several circle sessions or the classroom.

Tiling With Pentagons

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A pentagonal tiling is a tiling of the plane where each individual piece is in the shape of a pentagon. The plane cannot be tiled with regular pentagons. However, are there any convex pentagons that can tile the plane? This session explores various pentagons and their tiling abilities. From 1918 to 1985, fourteen irregular pentagons that would tile the plane were discovered. On August 14, 2015, Casey Mann, Jennifer McLoud, and David Von Derau of the University of Washington Bothell announced that they discovered a fifteenth pentagon. Interestingly, in 2017, Michaël Rao proved that there were no more than these...