While I’ve been sick this week I’ve been brushing up on my puzzle solving strategies. While I wouldn’t call the Web Sudoku site an integration of technology within the classroom (you can easily find a newspaper or periodical that publishes them), it’s a good idea to just have some simple fun with technology every now and then.
For those not familiar with sudoku, it’s a Japanese number-based logic puzzle. That’s right, no crosswords, no fill in the blanks, just numbers and squares. The object is simple. Place the number one through nine into a 9 by 9 matrix so that each row has each of the nine numbers only once and each column has each of the nine numbers only once. There are some given numbers already, which is where the puzzling part comes in. How can you finish the puzzle given certain numbers already placed for you? Alright, so maybe it isn’t so simple. But there’s a great article about sudoku over at Wikipedia that explains the game much better, including some simple strategies for solving the game and variations of it (sudoku cube, yikes!).
The Web Sudoku site would be an excellent enrichment tool for math students, as it lets you work on the puzzle (easy, medium, hard, or evil difficulties) online, and with millions of puzzles there’s always a challenge for any ability of player. It also tracks the individual records from the computer you’re using, lets you check the puzzle for mistakes as you’re playing, and if you don’t finish in time for lunch, you can print out the puzzle to finish later. The really great nature of this number puzzle is once you’ve gotten past the stage of novelty, you can begin to talk about patterns and strategies that have been developed for solving sudoku puzzles, or help students work out strategies and find patterns of their own.