Category Archives: Concepts

Communication Activity

CommunicationActivityTry this simple activity with a friend…

1. Draw a picture on a piece of paper, but keep it a secret from your friend.

2. Without showing the drawing to your friend, try to give detailed instructions so that your friend can re-create the drawing without actually seeing the picture.

3. When you’re finished giving instructions, see how the original drawing compares to the one your friend made based on your instructions.

4. Switch roles.

This activity can be done with Legos or other materials.  In the picture below, the student is writing out instructions for his partner who will be given the individual pieces for the object.  The partner will try and build the object based on the written description.  What kind of words would you use to describe the object in the picture?


Strategy Seminar 9-20-13

140 kids + lots of creativity & enthusiasm + cardboard boxes = A FUN-FILLED DAY!

Hopefully by now you’ve heard your child tell you about all the fun they had at last Friday’s Strategy Seminar.  The day was packed full of fun and it sure looked like everyone was having a blast!  Here are a few pictures to highlight the day.

We started off the morning by doing a massive Rock Paper Scissors  competition and a group Thumb War.  Jane McGonigal even re-tweeted Mr. Lee’s picture to 50,636 of her followers on Twitter!




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During station rotations, students had a mini-economics lesson with Mr. Lee and Mrs. Sindt.  They completed a simulation on game theory using 1 and 10 dollar bills.  Ask you child to explain the activity and why they came home without any money!  😉


During another station, students learned some basic programming principles using CargoBot and Hopscotch.  While 20 minutes wasn’t enough time to master the apps, students were able to test different strategies like ‘guess and check’ and ‘solve a simpler problem’.  CargoBot and Hopscotch are both iPad apps that you can download for free in the iTunes store.

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In the third station, high school FPS (Future Problem Solving) students led a ninja game outside.  It was great to get some fresh air and enjoy the beautiful day while practicing some strategies during this fun game.


During lunch, students watched Caine’s Arcade and were presented with the challenge to create their own arcade game.  It was so amazing to see the creativity and imagination of these kids as you can see by the photos below.  You can read more about Caine’s Arcade by visiting his website at

Caine’s Arcade and Imagination Foundation even re-tweeted some of our pictures from the day!

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Thank you for letting us work with your children!  We all feel truly blessed to work with such amazing kids each day!  We all had a great time and hope to have more opportunities like this in the future!

Here’s a quick Vine showcasing some of the games in action:

Sequences & Patterns (Look for a Pattern)

Patterns exist everywhere!  From quilts to tile floors to patterns that exist in nature, our brains are wired to find patterns.


Looking for a pattern is a very useful strategy when solving math problems.  In many cases, this strategy is combined with other strategies to find the solution to the problem.

To introduce students to finding patterns and sequences, we looked at Fibonacci’s Sequence and Pascal’s Triangle .  This is what Pascal’s Triangle looks like.  Do you see any patterns?  Can you tell what numbers will be in row 7?


Don’t Peak!  See if you can figure out the pattern!



What numbers will be in the 8th row?  What will the first two numbers be in the 100th row?  Can you use a pattern to answer these questions?  What other questions can you come up with about Pascal’s Triangle?  What other interesting information can you find out about Pascal’s Triangle?

Here is Fibonacci’s Sequence.  Do you see the pattern?  What will the next three terms be?


Think you’ve got it?  Don’t peak!


If you came up with 34, 55, and 89, then you are correct!  What other questions can you ask about Fibonacci’s Sequence?  Where does Fibonacci’s Sequence show up in nature?  What other information can you find out about Fibonacci?

Paper Folding (Act it Out)

Take any piece of paper and fold it in half.  Fold it in half again…and again.  Is there a maximum number of times that a piece of paper can be folded in half?  Does it depend on the size of the paper?  Does thickness matter?  Make an organized chart of the types and sizes of paper you will try to fold.  Decide up front what you will consider a successful fold.

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Some problems lend themselves to the “act it out” strategy.  Watch this video to see some students act out the folding problem with toilet paper.

Let’s Go Fishing

Rules of the Game

You need to fish to survive!

  1. Each round will last 1 minute
  2. You will be fishing with your straw. Only whole fish will count.
  3. If you take 0 or 1 fish, your family will starve and you will lose the game
  4. If you take 2 fish your family will live, but you won’t make any money
  5. If you take more than 2 fish you can ‘sell’ them for points
  6. When your group runs out of fish the game is over
  7. Each fish remaining at the end of the year is able to spontaneously reproduce and make one new fish. For example, 2 fish become 4, 4 fish become 8, up to a max of 16

Use the following tables to keep track of the points.


Discussion Questions

-Did anyone in your group take too many fish? How did that make you feel? Did everyone try to take as many as possible? Why or why not?

-What was your strategy for round 2?

-How did your strategy change?

-What is a model?

-What other models do you know of? Can you use your strategies in them?