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Puzzles, Riddles and Conundrums

Saturday 1st June 2019

This is the Transum Newsletter for the month of June 2019. It begins, as usual with the puzzle of the month.

Once upon a time Patsy wrote the following in her diary:

"The day before yesterday Percy was 13 years old. Next year he will turn 16."

How can she have been correct?

Is that a puzzle or a riddle? I have always thought the difference lies in the fact that a riddle has some sort of hidden meaning or requires lateral or out-of-the-box thinking. While we are on the subject what is a conundrum? I looked it up in the dictionary and disappointingly is said that a conundrum was a riddle!


Last month I collected together some of my favourite mathematical riddles and added them to the website. Each riddle is in a format ready to be projected onto your whiteboard so that the whole class can test their ingenuity by solving these unusual conundrums together. They also make good Starters, Finishers and are great as homework challenges that could involve the whole family.

By the way, as I looked up the word riddle in my Illustrated Oxford Dictionary I noticed that the word rhombohedron was on the same page. Could you sketch one?

While you are thinking about the riddle and the rhombohedron here are some of the other resources added to the Transum website during the May.

The Advanced Starters collection has increased and links to them have been added to individual Topics pages.

Three new topics have been added as more resources for the older pupils are added. They are CalculusLogarithms and Functions. It will take some time before these topics have as many resources as the more established topics but I'm on the case. I have been putting many hours into the Differentiation online exercise. It's not making up the questions containing random numbers that takes the time, it's the accounting for all the different ways students might type in their answers that eats up the hours.

A Curriculum page for 'Beyond GCSE' has been added. This contains the syllabus for the core A-Level with each statement a clickable link to related resources including online exercises and exam-style questions. For those of you on the international circuit thinking about the new IB Maths courses starting next academic year, I have begun to add the syllabus statements linking to resources in a similar way. That is currently a work in progress however.

Boy using a calculator

This time last year I was writing in the newsletter about the Royal Game of UR. My version is called the Remainder Race and during the course of the year I have added a few little extras to this activity. It really is great to be a fly on the wall (not literally) as I was yesterday, listening to youngsters take their time to understand the rules, discuss strategies and make board game playing so enjoyable.

This month I would like to welcome new or returning subscribers from United Kingdom, United States, China, Malaysia, Thailand, Australia, New Zealand, Netherlands, Middle East, Hong Kong and Korea.

Don't forget you can listen to this month's podcast which is the audio version of this Newsletter. You can find it on Stitcher or Apple Podcasts. You can follow Transum on Twitter and 'like' Transum on Facebook

A nice gift I received this month is a book called Math with Bad Drawings by Ben Orlin. I'm really enjoying the humour in the writing and the drawings are great. The first chapter describes a way to make the game of noughts and crosses more of an interesting game. I have a long-haul flight coming up on the 20th of this month so I think making an online version of this game (Ultimate Tic Tac Toe) will make the twelve hours fly by! Hopefully in the next newsletter I'll let you know how I got on. [Edit 22-6-2019 I did it. It's at Ultimate Noughts and Crosses]

Finally the answer to this month's puzzle:

The story takes place on the 1st January 2019.
The day before yesterday, 30th December 2018, Percy was 13.
His Birthday was on the 31st December so yesterday he became 14.
On the last day of this year he will become 15.
Therefore on the last day of next year he will turn 16.


Rhombohedron by Kilom691 [CC BY-SA 3.0], via Wikimedia Commons

That's all for now,


PS. Alexa has just said she'd tell me a geometry joke ... but it's no graphing matter!

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