Last week we had a crisis at work — we misplaced the key to the Maths Arcade cupboard, in which we store the games (don’t ask!). So I was on the look out for something to do without opening the cupboard — i.e. on pen and paper — and I turned to Twitter for help. What suggestions did I get? What did we do in our Emergency Maths Arcade? Read on.
First, @JamesMoosh suggested challenging the students to open the cupboard, saying this would provide “problem solving, logical/lateral thinking, teamwork” and be a good Maths Arcade activity. One student suggested this too, but backed down when I asked for a guarantee that he could pick the lock shut again afterwards!
Suggestions of games:
- Tic Tac Toe Ten: suggested by @SherriBurroughs, I am aware of this from the blog post Ultimate Tic-Tac-Toe. It’s a kind of mega-Noughts and Crosses.
- Sprouts: suggested by @SherriBurroughs, explained at NRICH. Sprouts was invented by John H. Conway and Michael S. Paterson and popularised in a column by Martin Gardner (who would have been 99 this week).
- Nim: the classic game, suggested by @SherriBurroughs.
- 3D Noughts and Crosses: suggested by @devereuxn. Googling, I’m finding a lot of wooden puzzles and online games, though clearly you could play in ‘3D’ using three Noughts and Crosses boards on a piece of paper and working out the vertical lines between them.
- Straightedge and compass construction golf: suggested by @christianp. I think he may have made this up. He explains that he was thinking of the online game ANCIENT GREEK GEOMETRY, and suggests I “challenge them to construct shapes in the fewest steps”. He calls this ‘golf’ from ‘code golf‘, where you try to write the shortest possible code that implements a certain algorithm.
- Hex: suggested by @relinde. We have Hex in the cupboard, but of course it can be played on pen and paper if you print a grid of hexagons.
All good suggestions, but I needed activities that I was confident running with an uncertain number of attendees. So, what did I take? I took Sprouts, Hex, Chomp and Dots (the latter two from my memory of Nottingham MathsJam and my hasty Wikipedia-ing, respectively). I also took a bag of puzzle bits that are used at open days. It went well, and we had a good time. Next time we hope to open the cupboard, but it’s nice to know that we can pull off an Emergency Maths Arcade if the need arises!