I taught post-secondary mathematics in British Columbia for 29 years, at Okanagan College in Kelwona for three years, then based at the University of the Fraser Valley in Abbotsford and Chilliwack for the remaining 26 years. Now I’m retired and living in Nelson, in the West Kootenays.
In 2006, I began teaching Math for Elementary Teachers and found that while some of my students could write the weekly quiz in five minutes, others took fifteen. It’s no fun sitting waiting for others to finish, so I began handing out a puzzle with each quiz, for those who finished early. It started out purely for amusement, but soon it became clear that students from all kinds of mathematical backgrounds were enjoying the puzzles and learning a lot from them. I was delighted, as many of those students had had unpleasant experiences in formal mathematics classes and had very little confidence in their ability to think mathematically. Lo and behold, they were showing me – and themselves – just what they were capable of. Other students, who had little trouble with the content of our course, were happy to challenge themselves with harder versions of the puzzles I assigned.
I also tried out some of these puzzles and games on the students who came to my university’s annual math contest. They really enjoyed them, as did the more advanced university mathematics students who helped out with the math contest.
In 2009 my department started offering Math Mania events to local elementary and middle schools. We quickly moved from one event per year to four, such is the demand. These events are a tremendous amount of fun for everyone, youngsters, their families, and our volunteers alike. They have provided me with avid testers of commercial and home-made games.
During my sabbatical of 2012/13, I was privileged to share puzzles and games with over 4000 K-12 students in visits to many, many classrooms. I also gave workshops for hundreds of teachers and a six-week course as part of Elder College. I’d had no idea there would be so much interest! (Read more at Puzzles in my life.)
Over the years I have added many puzzles to my collection, looking for inspiration to on-line sites and books. I started out sharing my templates and resources via a Dropbox, but that is not easy to find your way around those files unless you already know what you’re looking for. So here we are with a website!
This website is meant to provide an introduction to some of the most easily accessible logical/mathematical puzzles in a form that is easy to download and print. I hope you find something to intrigue, puzzle, and delight you, your students, your children, and/or your grandchildren.
Teachers especially might be interested in reading discussions of how I introduce puzzles in classroom situations. Find a general discussion on this website, under the For Teachers heading. For some specific descriptions in volume 18 of Pi in the Sky , published by the Pacific Institute for the Mathematical Sciences. And there are several detailed step-by-step discussions in the Saskatchewan Mathematics Teachers’ journal, The Variable.
I greatly enjoy visiting K-12 classrooms to share mathematical games. If you’re a teacher in or near the West Kootenays and would like a visit, please get in touch!
Two ways to contact me for a classroom visit:
1) Go through Science World’s Scientists & Innovators in the Schools website and complete the form called Request a Scientist.
2) Reach me directly: