This interactive whiteboard resource is another where its purpose is to allow teachers to easily set a thinking skills activity for their class. The strength of this puzzle is that it can be easily carried out on computer or with easily made pieces. The challenge was originally set byJohn Harris and is one of the ones included in The Colossal Book of Short Puzzles and Problems by Martin Gardner.
The challenge is to start with a cube that has one face marked. You start with the cube on the upper left square of a chess board. The purpose is to tour the board, visiting each square once and only once, before finishing with the marked side up on the top right sqaure. A move may be made left, right, up or down and involves rolling the cube. The marked face may not appear face up on any move except for the start and end position. Using the resource shows you the rules quite easily. The skull and cross bones represent the marked side.
The resource records the high score in each session so if you wish to allow the class to attempt this on computer you can see what their best attempt has been. The solve button will show the solution but only if you enter the correct password in the text box below. The password can be obtained by requesting it in the comments below. It will not be sent immediately to prevent cheating and will periodically change so it is worth recording the solution when you have it.
Challenges such as these encourage children to devise their own strategies and analyse the problem to reach a solution. It is a tricky problem and students should be encouraged to not give up too soon to encourage their persistence at problem solving. Many children fall into the trap of believing anything they can’t solve in a couple of minutes is impossible and they give up. Setiing longer problems can help counter this mindset. A hint that you may like to give is that the solution really only needs you to work out how to tour half the board as the second half can be done the same way but reflected.
To make the puzzle physically use or print a normal chess board and find a cube whose faces are close to the size of squares on the board. Or a dice may be used nominating which number counts as the marked side.
I’d like to acknowledge the significant amout of time I saved while creating this resource by using the cube code at http://www.flashandmath.com/ as a basis for the cube used in this resource.