Lock Problems: TES Maths Resource of the Week

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What is it?
I am a little bit obsessed with the Escape Rooms type puzzles that have swept the nation over the last couple of years. You know the ones – you must solve a puzzle to get a code, which unlocks a box, which leads to another puzzle, and so on. Indeed, I think I have dragged my wife and friends to most of them in the North West. Well, much to my companions’ delight, I can now bring the same level of nerdy excitement into the maths classroom. This collection of 11 Lock Problems, covering a whole host of topics such as ratio and probability, is simply amazing. The idea is relatively simple: students work their way through a series of questions, with each answer providing a key component of a code. A slick bit of algebraic substitution with their answers generates the final code, which they then take to the front of the class to try out on the combination lock to reveal a prize. Essentially, students are doing no more than working through a series of questions, but the fun setting leads to levels of engagement and determination that worksheets alone rarely induce.

How can it be used?
The author provides a really comprehensive series of instructions to follow, and whilst at first glance this may seem like a load of hassle to set up, it really isn’t. Snap up a cheap combination lock and a tin box, and you are away! In terms of support for students, I often use my Counter technique that I have discussed often on past ROTW selections (give each group a counter that they can exchange for one hint from me). And for extension, then students absolutely love creating their very own lock problem for other students (or teachers!) to solve. A fantastic bit of fun in the classroom that is also worthwhile and valuable.

Thanks so much for sharing
Craig Barton

Download: Lock Problems
View the author’s other resources

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