By Michael Hartley
MathGolf is a game which kids can very quickly learn to play, but will take a long time to master. If you make the right suggestions to them, they'll teach themselves a swag of math tricks, and get heaps of addition practice. It's based on a puzzle originally invented by Sam Loyd, who was a famous inventor of math puzzles in the early 20th century.
The idea of MathGolf is to pick two numbers. These numbers are added (or subtracted) as many times as needed to equal the length of each hole in the course. The fewer times, the better. The winner each month is the person with the lowest total score for that month's nine-hole course.
That's right, the whole world joins in this golf contest! Each player represents his or her school and country every time they play!
I know that many kids will just guess random numbers and hope this gives high scores. These kids will not see their names in lights. Here's some tips you can use to help your kids do better.
- Teach them how to play the game, then let them experiment for a while.
- Then, write down the lengths of each hole, and switch off the computer.
- Encourage your child to do some work with pen/pencil and paper, or calculator, to try to figure out how to get a good score.
- When the child has an answer he or she is satisfied with, let them at the computer again!
If you have a group of kids - a classroom, a homeschooling support group, or even just a big family - you could make it a project, a competition within the group. Each child works out for him or herself a pair of numbers to try, then keys it into the computer to see how they go. If they've worked in groups, they can type all their names in as 'name'. See if you can get your group (or school) to be the best!
But one request - please don't cheat! Let the kids work out their answers themselves, so all the kids playing the game can have fun!
Yours, Dr Mike...
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