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7th/8th Grade Math: Art of Problem Solving

7th/8th Grade Math: Art of Problem Solving
Posted on 06/17/2015

By Rebecca Sawady, Math Teacher, 7th and 8th grades

MathThis year, upper school math teachers at Amigos have been exploring the Art of Problem Solving curriculum. It is an innovative approach to teaching math that is designed to help students discover mathematical concepts on their own and with their peers as they solve problems. The curriculum also exposes students to problems that ask them to apply and extend their knowledge in new and interesting ways.

Here’s an example of what an Art of Problem Solving question might ask you to do: 

Find the solution to 37 + 152 + 91 + 48 + 9 + 63

MathOn the surface this is a fairly simple problem that requires some tedious computation. But, if a student looks at the problem carefully, they can see that the problem is substantially easier if they apply the commutative and associative properties that they have been learning about in order to change the order and grouping of the numbers:

37 + 152 + 91 + 48 + 9 + 63 
= (37 + 63) + (152 + 48) + (91 + 9)
= 100 + 200 + 100
= 400

We have been using these problems as part of the curriculum, as extensions and for summer homework packets. It will also be the primary source for the District summer school class for entering 6th and 7th graders who are interested in further developing their problems solving skills.