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7 Complete this magic square ! Problem Challenge 5-YEAR COMPETITION BOOK 1991-1995 Edited by Dr John Curran UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICS & STATISTICS — How many matches are used in 10 step stat ? ‘ow much string is needed to wrap up the parcel ? Problem Challenge 5-YEAR COMPETITION BOOK 1991-1995 Edited by Dr John Curran university OTAGO oe Wanage Oe NEW ZEALAND, UNIVERSITY OF OTAGO DEPARTMENT OF MATHEMATICS & STATISTICS INTRODUCTION Contents The Problem Challenge Competition 9... 2... .. Introduction to Problem Solving... 2.2... -.-00. References PROBLEM SETS Problem Challenge ‘91. . Problem Challenge 92... . Problem Challenge ‘93. . Problem Challenge 94... . Problem Challenge ‘95. . ANSWERS & SOLUTIONS Problem Challenge “91 Problem Challenge 92 Problem Challenge 93 Problem Challenge ‘94 Problem Challenge 95 STATISTICS Problem Challenge Statistics =. se 21 32, 38 58 68 78 The Problem Challenge Competition In 1991 a mathematics problem solving scheme was offered to intermediate level children in mainland schools under the somewhat prosaic title South Island Problem Solving Scheme (SIPSS for short). That year some 210 schools entered 5000 children. Since 1992 the competition has been offered to all schools throughout New Zealand with pupils in forms 1 and 2, though some younger children from these schools participate. In 1992 the competition was given a snappier title. It was renamed Problem Challenge to better reflect the spirit of the contest. Problem Challenge has proved to be popular, with 540 schools entering 16000 children in 1992, 630 schools entering 22000 children in 1993, and about 670 schools entering some 27000 children in both 1994 and 1995. John Curran (University of Otago Department of Mathematics and Statistics) has organised the scheme since its inception, set questions and arranged and typeset che problems and solutions. Bruce Beath (Dunedin College of Education School Support Services) has set questions and given general advice. John Shanks (University of Otago Department of Mathematics and Statistics) joined the panel in 1994 and since then has set questions and shared the typesetting task. He has also brightened up the more recent sets with cartoons. ‘The format of Problem Challenge is quite simple. Each year entrants attempt to write answers to 5 questions (in 30 minutes) on 5 problem sets, which are sat about a month apart. It is these sets which are reproduced here (with the 1991 SIPSS sets relabelled Problem Challenge for uniformity.) Problem Challenge is generally aimed at the more able children in years 7 and 8 (forms 1 and 2) and exceptional children in year 6 (standard 4). However, in reality, enthusiastic children with a range of abilities enter the competition, so the first problem or two are usually telatively straightforward in order that all children entered can have some success. Other problems are harder and challenge the very able. At the end of the year all the results from the competition are collated, certificates presented and awards made. In recent years, those in about the top 10% receive a certificate of excellence, those in the next 20 — 30% a certificate of merit and the remainder a certificate of participation. As well, awards (book tokens) are made to the top 1% or so of entrants, through the generosity of our sponsors New Zealand Aluminium Smelters Lid. The problems themselves vary considerably in content and difficulty. Each year the problem setters try to come up with something fresh and interesting. Some are “original”, some are modified versions of standard questions, others involve ideas freely borrowed from other sources. The questions from the first five years of Problem Challenge have been compiled in this booklet to provide teachers with a convenient bank of problems and solutions. These problems can be used flexibly by teachers as a resource for pupils from years 6 - 10, and to support the mathematical processes strand from Mathematics in the New Zealand Curriculum. ‘Have fun trying them! John Curran February 1996. Introduction to Problem Solving Although there is no universal method for solving all problems, George Polya, the father of modern ‘problem solving, outlined the following four steps as a guideline for successful problem solving. (@ Understanding the problem Gi) Devising a plan Gi) Carrying out the plan (iv) Looking back. This well-known framework was first suggested by Polya in his classic book How to Solve It some 50 years ago, and has withstood the test of time. Let us briefly examine each of these before looking at (ii) in more detail. (i) Understanding the problem. Before attempting to solve the problem the student must spend time thinking about it. They must really understand what it is that is being asked. A test of this could be for them to explain to someone else in their own words what the problem is asking. They might consider such points as DoT understand all the key words used, such as digit, factor, prime number ete ? ‘Am I using all the information given ? (Most of the questions in Problem Challenge usually give just enough information, but other problems often contain irrelevant or redundant information.) %* Could there be another way of interpreting the question ? Am I taking the most reasonable approach ? + What will the answer look like ? (ii) Devising a plan, Once students understand the problem, they must decide on a plan of action. They must choose a reasonable strategy to solve the problem. There are many possible strategies, but there is a fairly standard list of the more common ones, which every problem solving book includes, most teachers know and some students have even been known to use! These are Draw a picture or diagram ‘Make an organised list Make a table or chart Find a pattem Guess and check (trial and error) ‘Work backwards Solve a simpler problem Write an equation ee Re Different people may well use different strategies on the same problem. Often too, it is some combination of these strategies that yields a solution, Further, it should be stressed that problem solving cannot be reduced to a routine choice of one of these approaches. As Polya observed, problem solving is a practical task like learning to swim or laying the piano. Children learn problem solving by tackling problems and gradually building up their armoury of skills. However, whatever plan is adopted, encourage the student to work systematically and logically through it. (iii) Carrying out the plan. ‘This is where the student must implement the strategy. Encourage them to write down their efforts in a systematic and logical fashion. Good recording techniques mean the student can see what they have done so far, whether they are making progress, explain easily to others what they are doing, or look back themselves later at what they have done. It also means that they can easily check their efforts to ensure that at cach step along the way they have accurately calculated the work involved. If the strategy adopted is not proving fruitful then the student should try # different approach. (iv) Looking back Children often think they are finished when they get an answer — any answer. But it is an important part of the process to consider the answer obtained. + Isitareasonable answer ? * Can the answer be checked? (Often by using the data provided in the question, the answer can be verified immediately.) + Isthere more than one answer possible ? * Does the answer found really answer the question asked ? Even when the answer is correct, there are some richly rewarding further areas to be explore, + Could the problem have been solved in a different way ? A more elegant way ? Can this problem be related to others solved previously ? Is it essentially the same as a previous problem but set in a different context ? * Can the problem be generalised ? Ask “what if" type questions. What if the square was changed to 2 rectangle ? What if the 2 digit number given was changed to a 3 digit number ? Problem Solving Strategies We now give some problems, and illustrate some of the strategies listed in (ii) above to solve them. Example 1. The sum of the ages of Alan, Beth and Cara is 32 years. Beth is 4 years older ‘than Alan, and Cara is 6 years older than Beth. What is Alan's.age ? Solution. Trial and error is a strategy naturally used by children of this age, but often in a random way with litle success. However, with a little refinement it can quickly pay dividends. Here, guess an age for Alan, work out the ages of Beth and Cara, sum these ages and compare with the given total 33. ‘Then adjust Alan’s age up or down depending on whether the sum is too big or too small. ‘What is 2 reasonable starting guess ? The average age of the three children is 32 + 3, close to 11. Since Alan is the youngest he will be less than 11. Try 10. Record successive guesses systematically, perhaps in a table as follows: Alan Beth Cara Sum Comment 10 14 20 44 100 big 8 2 18 38 still 100 big 3 9 15 29 too small 6 10 16 32 just right. This guess and check technique has quickly produced a result! It won't always work, but often if a student doesn't know what to do, crying something is better than nothing. A trial and error approach is an obvious starting point, and may lead to other ideas. Notice the obvious way to record our guesses was to make a table. If we had been a little more systematic, we might have begun to find a pattern emerging. Let us look again, for arguments sake starting at 12 for Alan's age. Beth Cara Sum 16 22 50 15 21 47 = 50-1x3 14 20 50-23 13 19 50-33 6=12-6 10 16 32 = 50-63 Each time we reduce Alan's age by 1 year, we also reduce the ages of Beth and Cara by one year and the sum goes down by 3 years. Since 32 = 50~6 x 3, we need to reduce Alan's age by 6 years, and obtain 6 = 12-6.