Just before winter break, Illuminations sent a holiday treat (in the form of a math problem) to the subscribers of the Bright Ideas newsletter. The recipients included elementary, middle, and high school math teachers. The problem is implicitly personalized — students have to find the value of the letters in their name, based on some criteria given in the problem. A PDF of the problem is attached, or you can view it here:
http://tinyurl.com/nameletters
A number of recipients shared their thoughts on this problem with illuminations@nctm.org.
What's your opinion? Is this a good problem? Would you use it with your students? Would you modify it in any way?
FYI, no answer key is provided with the problem. However, any person can check their answer at http://tinyurl.com/nameletterscheck.
This looks like a fabulous problem to test computational reasoning on. One could probably set up an Excel spreadsheet to test different prices for letters, based on finding what an average price for a letter is likely to be from the data given.
I think this would be fairly challenging to do by hand though as most students are likely to use a guess and check method. I'll see if I can have a couple of my colleagues try this problem out with their students and see what they think.
I take it back, this problem is very well suited to logic. I have half of the letters already with some applied logic.
Solved it. It took me a little less than an hour to solve, so I am guessing that it would take students several classes to solve. Some problems which require a bit more persistence are good in my books.
This problem is great! I immediately began looking for letter groups/name that could be subtracted away from other names to find the value of individual letters letters - almost like a system of equations. My middle shcool students coudl handle this with some time. It is a great example of a problem that builds perseverance.
I thought this was a great brain teaser, but not sure about it being a great math problem. I gave it to some of my middle school students and they really enjoyed it and had a little difficulty at first. My concern with the problem is that it would be great for teaching addition/subtraction but would be too difficult for those students in elementary learnign that material. However, I do agree with Stacey in that it wold be great example of perservance which would go with the Common Core Mathematical processes.