Saturday, April 26, 2014

PRESENTING: Math Discovery Summer Camp

This summer, the Mathbreakers team is adding a new dimension to our business -- summer camps!

For one week, kids will get to have a hands-on experience with mathematics that will shape their attitudes towards math for years to come. With the help of Dora Lee, our crafter and maker of shapes, and Federico Chivalo, our math specialist, we have designed a host of games and activities to engage hungry young minds (and take them off their parents hands for a while! ;-)

One of the games we created for the camp is a wild take on the old classic, Tic-Tac-Toe.

Original Tic-Tac-Toe is ridiculously easy, and most games end with no winner ("cat" wins). But Multiples Tic-Tac-Toe is ... much different.

First off, there are nine boards, not just one. In order to win, you first have to win on a smaller board. Then you get an X or O over the whole 9 squares, and you're on your way to getting 3 in a row on the larger board.

But here's where it gets interesting. When you play, you can actually hit multiple squares at once. The board is laid out as the multiples for the integers 1 - 9. The first square has 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9. The second square is for multiples of 2 -- 2, 4, 6, 8, 10, 12, 14, 16, and 18. Each square has nine multiples on it, all the way up to the ninth square which has 9, 18, 27, 36, 45, 54, 63, 72, and 81.

The savvy player will immediately realize that some numbers show up more than once! 16 shows up in the 2, 4 and 8 squares. So if you play a 16, you get to place three pieces (assuming none of them are already taken).

OK, one last piece of the puzzle! To play your number, you must pick two numbers between 1 and 9 to multiply together. If you want to hit the 16 square, you would choose "2" and "8". Now, the next player's turn, they can change only one of these numbers. So they could keep the "2" and change the "8" to, let's say, a "7" (and get 2 x 7 = 14 -- which unfortunately only shows up once on the board.) But they cannot change both numbers, so there is no way they could get numbers that are neither a multiple of 2 or 8, like 21.

The implication here is that you can "trap" your opponent by picking two numbers that are not useful to them. If they need a 21, and you pick "2" and "8", there is no multiple of either 2 or 8 that gets 21, therefore they cannot possibly get 21 on their next move.

And therein lies the core of the strategy -- you can control what squares your opponent gets to play next, while keeping in mind they will be controlling your next move as well.

This is just one of the many activities at our camp! If you're in the San Francisco Bay Area and would like to sign up your son or daughter, we have set up a camp website and signup form here:

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