Bookmark Monday: Are you smarter than a third grader?

xyz + yz + z = yyz

What is x, y and z? Solve.

We were asked this question on Saturday night by one of the cousins; it was from a primary school math textbook.

Parents of Singapore primary-school age children from West to East, North to South, have been overheard cracking their heads over the logic of the  Heuristics methodology in the syllabus scope for Primary 3, at the office water-cooler, on public transport and in the midst of cracking their favourite chilli crab pincer. 

“Heuris-whats? Can it be eaten?”

Yes it’s waaaayyyy before my time as a mother of but two preschoolers.  But I’d eventually have to face it so I was curious enough to go look it up.

Heuristics – as defined by the Merriam-Webster online dictionary
: involving or serving as an aid to learning, discovery, or problem-solving by experimental and especially trial-and-error methods ; also : of or relating to exploratory problem-solving techniques that utilize self-educating techniques (as the evaluation of feedback) to improve performance
— heu•ris•ti•cal•ly \-ti-k(ə-)lē\ adverb

Hm. And this relates to Bookmark Monday how?

Well, we found this cute and clever book on an ordering booklist. Knowing nothing about it save for what we’d read on the short introductory synopsis, we ordered a copy and excitedly perused through it last night when it arrived.

The left brain of me couldn’t help succumbing to the temptation of subjecting myself to mental athletics at the sprightly hour of midnight, whilst the right half violently protested and loudly orated the surely-more-logical-and-reasonable option of succumbing to the comforts of a feather pillow.

Left brain won. (I know, I know, geeky geek…)

Frankly it will be some time before we pull this book out to share with our kids.  But Singapore math syllabus, Model method and homework woes aside, if you are looking for a more enjoyable resource with a no-tears formula for exploring heuristics and developing problem-solving techniques, I have to admit “Math Potatoes: Mind-Stretching Brain Food” comes pretty close.

That…and seriously? Can you resist checking out a book series with titles such as “The Grapes of Math” and “Math-terpieces”?

Now that we’ve got ourselves this copy, my attention is piqued enough to be on the lookout for the rest of the titles by Greg Tang, especially the ones for the younger preschool set – Math Fables and Math for All Seasons.

By the way, have you figured out the values of x, y, and z?

Yes? Give yourself a thump on your back – you are smarter… 😉
Not yet? Keep calm and crack on.


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