Sunday, May 1, 2011

Math Fairs

In a telephone chat with Gord Hamilton, I found out his initial inspiration for his Math Pickle work was a SNAP Math Fair. I had never heard of these, and went to their website to check it out. What a great idea!

Paul Giganti runs some great math festivals in California, but I've wondered how we could help spread the good work he does. The SNAP Math Fairs have the kids running the math festival, while their parents wander around trying to solve the puzzles. Each kid is the expert on one puzzle, and can help visitors to their booth solve it if needed.

The website includes a puzzles page, a resource page with more puzzle ideas, guidelines for organizing your own SNAP (Student-centered, Non-competitive, All-inclusive, Problem-based) Math Fair, and lots more that looks useful. They make it look easy.

From the puzzles page:

Number wheel

In the figure on the left, numbers have been placed in the circles. For every pair of neighbouring numbers, the sum of the pair equals the sum of the opposite numbers.
The problem is to place the digits 1 through 6 into the circles using each number as few times as possible. In the picture on the left, we used the number 3 twice.
In each of the figures below the 1 and 5 are already in place. In each case, finish the puzzle by putting the numbers 2, 3, 4 and 6 in the proper places.
number wheel diagram
(This is a simpler version of Order the numbers from The Moscow Puzzles by Boris Kordemsky)

If your child is in school, this would be a good way to help move their math program in a kid-friendly direction.


  1. There are two styles of SNAP Math Fairs. One is the most popular one that you described, in which children solve logical puzzles, prepare booths to display them, and then challenge visitors to solve the problems. These fairs have been held in hundreds of schools in over 15 countries and are really a lot of fun. The second style is one in which future elementary school teachers, that is college students who are studying to become elementary school teachers, put on a SNAP Math Fair themselves. The visitors are children that are brought to the fair site or the college students can take the fair to a school. Aside from giving the college students experience in interacting with children we hope that they will decide to put on SNAP Mathematics Fairs once they are employed in the field.

  2. The puzzle page of the website is really interesting.


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