Monday, December 1, 2014

Problem Solving Palooza- Challenge #1

 "Bridge Crossing" from

Today's challenge is one of my favorite web games. It's called "Bridge Crossing" from See the screenshot below. 

Grade Level: This website is more suited to the reasoning skills of upper elementary/ middle school students. (See variations below for lower elementary challenges.)

Objective: Help all of the characters cross the bridge.

Task: Only two characters can cross the bridge at the same time. The lantern must be used when the characters cross the bridge. Each character shows how many minutes it takes him/her to cross the bridge. The lantern will lasts for 30 minutes; that's how long the characters have to cross the bridge because they cannot cross the bridge in the dark. 

Note: This is a challenging task, but it is possible. I've had students master this task in the past! 

Ways to Utilize the Activity: This website is a great way to get your student thinking about how to solve problems such as these. Consider displaying the website to the class and review the directions. Then, as a class, discuss ways to approach the task. Ask questions such as: 

  • What is the task asking us to do?
  • What special conditions do we need to consider?
  • Which characters take the shortest time to cross the bridge?
  • Which characters take the longest time to cross the bridge?
  • How can we pair the characters together so that we use the shortest time possible? 
  • Which character can be easily used to travel back and forth across the bridge?

You may also want to consider allowing students to work in pairs to approach the task and discuss ways to meet the goal together. 

This applet makes a great fast finisher activity. It can also be included on a math menu or used on a menu of problem solving station options. 

Variations: The two websites below are more suited for younger elementary students. They are similar to the challenge above but include special conditions, such as a small penguin cannot be left alone on a side with an unrelated adult penguin. The special conditions add an additional element of challenge, but the tasks are easier than the "Bridge Crossing" task.