Math Suey

By Daniel J. Yovich
http://mathsueygame.com/
Grand Rapids, MI

Math Suey is a 5 x 8-inch spiral-bound math puzzle book "for all ages" with two different kinds of brain teasers. Break the Hex and Unlock the Oct are analytical math problems. These make up the bulk of the book, and there are 52 of them. Given six or eight different numbers, you must arrange the numbers in order so that by choosing among the four basic operations to put between the numbers, the given answer is reached. The first number is supplied for you. For example, one puzzle lists the numbers 5, 25, 3, 19, 1, and 20. You need to arrange those numbers in order (beginning with 19) and choose among the operation symbols for add, subtract, multiply, or divide to insert between the numbers to arrive at the answer 15.

Where to start? How to go about these puzzles? These were a couple questions my kids and I had. It seems you try different number orders and operations at random (and there are an overwhelming number of possible combinations to try) to arrive at the answer. If it is merely a matter of trial and error, this would be frustrating for all but the most tenacious of us. These puzzles would be good for geniuses, but I think some further instructions or hints would be helpful for the average puzzle solver. How about providing the operations needed and requiring the numbers, or supplying the numbers in correct order and requiring the operations?

The second set of problems, Creative Thinking Challenges, of which there are only nine, is a variety of exercises. Some of these are quite appealing. One puzzle has you list 30 uses for an empty shoe box. Another is to create figures of speech for the first part of a sentence: "An orange feels like . . ." Inspiring quotes on creativity and problem solving are printed on the bottom of each page.

We love the concept of math puzzle and brain teaser books, but we wish the first part of Math Suey was not over-the-top challenging. Children (and adults!) need to experience a degree of achievable success. The Creative Thinking Challenges were very good, and it would have been nice to have a greater amount of them in the book.

Product review by Kathy Gelzer, The Old Schoolhouse® Magazine, LLC, October 2010

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