Deductive Reasoning and Puzzle Solving

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Middle School Math students in Marcia’s classes got a wonderful treat last week. Dr. Jeff Wanko visited the classroom and gave a presentation on deductive reasoning and puzzle solving. Dr. Wanko is the chair of the Department of Teacher Education at Miami University.

Students were given a puzzle and its solution and asked to determine the rules for solving the Shikaku puzzle. Shikaku (divide by box) are puzzles from Japan. While deducing the rules for the puzzle, students talked about number theory (odd and even numbers, primes), geometry (quadrilaterals, area), and general problem/puzzle solving techniques.  

After determining all the rules for solving the puzzle, students were given an opportunity to work individually and in small groups on new Shikaku puzzles.

Dr. Wanko shared with us one of his favorite puzzle magazines—Games World of Puzzles—and a great web site for more puzzles like the Shikaku (

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