The Basics of Brain Teasers
Brain teasers are a fun way to spend time and work out your mind, kind of like what you do at Mathnasium! What exactly are brain teasers, though? Brain teasers are tough riddles, which sometimes involve wordplay or numbers, and always involve logic and great amount of thinking!
These brain teasers have been puzzling and entertaining people for many years. In fact, Palo Alto parents and kids have probably heard about and even
solved several brain teasers already. Any question that requires using your knowledge of facts and logic, and a great amount of creativity and problem-solving, can be considered a brain teaser.
For example, try to solve the brain teaser below (you might already be familiar with this one):
You are a contestant on a game show. The game is very simple. There are three doors: door #1, door #2, and door #3. Behind one door is a million dollars. The other two doors contain worthless joke prizes.
All you have to do is pick which door you want to open, and you get whatever is behind it. But you only get to open one door. By simple math, then, you obviously have a 1 in 3 chance of picking the correct door and becoming an instant millionaire.
You pick a door. As soon as you tell the game show host what door you want to open, he stops and says, “Okay, you’ve made your choice. Now, I’m going to do what we always do here on this show. I’m going to open one of the other two doors for you that I know has a booby prize.” And he does so.
Then he asks, “Okay, now, would you like to stay with your original guess, or would you like to switch to the other door that’s still closed? You only get one shot, so do you want to stay with your original choice, or switch?”
Is there any compelling reason to switch doors if you want to win the million dollars?
Do you know the answer? Check the solution here: http://www.brucehurley.com/riddles/gameshow.htm
Brain teasers are hard, but with practice and determination, you will become a better and faster problem solver, which will not only improve your math skills, but help you become a stronger thinker in general.
How to Solve Them
To solve a tough brain teaser, try these steps:
1. Understand the question and gather all the facts you are given.
2. Plan. What strategies will help you solve the problem: should you draw a picture, find a pattern, make a list, or use numbers?
3. Solve! Use your chosen strategy and work to find a solution.
4. Look Back. Does your answer make sense? Is your solution the simplest way to answer the problem, or can you come up with a better way to solve it?
Once you go through these steps, you’re sure to have an elegant solution to any brain teaser. Try out this fun brain teaser from Khan Academy to test out these steps and practice your skills. Make sure to think long and hard before watching the answer, and don’t forget to have fun!
Liar/Truth-teller Brain Teaser
Here’s how to get correct advice when one person is telling the truth, the other is lying, and you don’t know who is who!
Learn more about Math Tutoring and Mathnasium of Palo Alto-Menlo Park (and find more fun problems) — http://www.mathnasium.com/paloalto-menlopark