by Connect Staff
Puzzles come in all types of media: paper and pencil, wood or plastic pieces, even as spoken riddles.
Pictured here are miniature versions of "mechanical puzzles," available at toyshops and science stores.
These are interlocking puzzles, where one is to remove a piece without the use of force by bending, cutting, or breaking the pieces. A more durable and nicely crafted version of classic and new puzzles can be found at http://www.tavernpuzzle.com, a site of David Sucilsky's wrought iron designs.
At the Discovery Science Center in Santa Ana, California, http://www.discoverycube.org a collection of large mechanical puzzles awaits visitors ready for a challenge. The center provides cards that have clues on the back and as in some cases, reveals a puzzle is actually unsolvable! When students solve how the pieces move and disengage from one another, they employ a number of skills: motor skills and coordination to manipulate the pieces, sequencing and memorization of the sequence of moves, communication when discussing the solution with peers, and much of the geometry content area of the NCTM standards. Additionally, puzzle-solvers need to be able to reverse the process in order to restore the puzzle for the next victim!
Mechanical puzzles can be used incidentally, by having them on the shelf for student use during in between times, or explicitly, incorporating spatial and geometric language in a class discussion.
- Synergy Learning has a small dedicated staff of educators with experience both in the classroom and staff development.