I first gave the 3 mystery puzzles below to my students in the Talented and Gifted program over 20 years ago. Prior to sharing the mysteries with the class, I had to review and review them again to make sure that I REALLY understood them.
The students tried all different ways of figuring out the answers. They talked it out, they drew pictures, they labeled their pictures and they asked questions. Finally, I shared the answers (thankfully, I had an answer key). But the answers did not come easy to most of us and we still had some non-believers in the group.
These are great activities for group work or challenge problems. They certainly will get people thinking. Have fun friends!
- Soup for All – GG made a big pot of chicken soup and wanted to share it with her neighbors. She filled 3 flowered bowls and gave them to her neighbors– a family of two fathers and two sons. They all loved the soup! How could 3 bowls of soup be divided equally and fairly between two fathers and two sons?
- Floating Family – Mom and Dad and two kids must cross a lake. They find a 2-person kayak, but it is not big enough for them all to go over at the same time. Luckily both kids are good rowers but how can the whole family get across the river? How many times does the kayak cross the lake? (HINT: Might find it easier to label the kids Kid #1 and Kid #2 to avoid confusion)
- The Wolf, the Goat, and the Cabbage – You are traveling through the woods with a wolf, a goat, and a cabbage. The wolf wants to eat the goat and the goat wants to eat the cabbage and you must keep everyone apart to prevent a disaster. You come to a river and find a small boat that you can only fit 1 other person. You must get everyone across the river, but you cannot leave the wolf alone with the goat, nor the goat alone with the cabbage. What is your plan? How many times did you have to cross the river to be successful?
Mystery Story Answers
- The neighbors were a grandfather, son, and grandson, so they each got a bowl of soup.
- The two kids row across. Kid #1 stays on the other side of the lake alone and Kid #2 brings the kayak back. Kid #2 and mom cross back over the lake. Mom stays behind and Kid #2 goes back to get dad. Dad and Kid #2 go back across the lake. Answer: they kayak crosses the lake 5 times.
- Take the goat across, go back; and take the wolf across. Then take the goat back with you. Take just the cabbage back with you and leave it with the wolf. Go back alone and bring back the goat. It took 7 trips across the river, but the goat was never alone with the wolf or the cabbage.
Learning occurs in day to day activities. So, look for and create learning opportunities throughout your day. Stay safe and be well.