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Games and Puzzles

Page history last edited by Betty Mayfield 13 years, 7 months ago

Harness your students’ inner competitive streak (and their burning desire to best their professors) with a session focusing on games or puzzles.  These sessions often boost student attendance as well!  Here are some ideas:


1. Math Jeopardy

This is a great activity for the first meeting of the semester.  Have students supply the questions to answers in different categories (famous names, integrals, definitions, ...)


Resources: There are PowerPoint templates available online if you want to take a high-tech approach:



Or, you can simply draw a Jeopardy board on the chalkboard/whiteboard and use a paper list of questions.


Where to get questions?   Brainstorm with your colleagues for categories during your department meeting, and then ask each person to send a list of questions via e-mail in each category.  You will also want to collectively come up with a fun Final Jeopardy question.  (We once had students match the names of professors with their dissertation titles.)

Have your students organize themselves into teams, and provide each team with a noisemaker to “buzz in” with their answers.  Collect freebies at the Joint Meetings or other meetings to use as prizes for the winners!



Build up your department's game library with these mathematical games:













3. Four 4's problem

Can you express all the numbers from 1 to 100 using an arithmetic combination of only four 4's?  Have participants write their answers on the board.


Resources: For a detailed explanation of the rules, check out



4. Tangrams

Purchase inexpensive sets of plastic tangram sets and then hand out pictures for participants to reproduce.




For a printable tangram puzzle and information about tangram books:  http://www.funorama.com/tangram.html

More printable puzzles: http://www.enchantedlearning.com/crafts/chinesenewyear/tangram/

The history of tangrams, and how to make your own: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tangram



5. Rebus Puzzles

Sharpen your problem-solving skills by solving these word puzzles. Examples:





[Top Secret and Up to a point]



Resources:  http://www.fun-with-words.com/rebus_puzzles.html















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