I followed the link and started reading the puzzle. Within about a minute, I knew I HAD to do this puzzle with my students this week. Here's the link to the puzzle from NPR so you can check it out yourself.
I'm naming this puzzle the "5-4-3-2-1 Challenge."
2016 Challenge Posters, I made a set of 5-4-3-2-1 Challenge Posters. After students find a solution and get it checked, they can write the solution on the poster and sign their name next to it. To keep things organized, I pre-typed the 5 4 3 2 1 part of the solution. Students will only have to write in the mathematical operators and parentheses.
Since the challenge is to find as many numbers from 1 to 40 as possible, I designed the posters to hold the solutions to 10 numbers each. These posters are designed to print on 11 x 17 cardstock (affiliate link). I use this cardstock for so many posters in my classroom!
The cheapest way to get dry erase pockets for your classroom is to search Amazon for "shop ticket holders (affiliate link)." These let you slide any sheet of paper inside and instantly turn it into an interactive activity!
If you don't have dry erase pockets, I also made some 5-4-3-2-1 strips that could be printed and laminated. Then, students could write directly on them with their dry erase marker.
So, I came up with this:
I printed one sheet off for me and one for my husband. He didn't ask for one, but I know he can't resist a puzzle. If I was going to be tortured by this puzzle, I was going to bring him along for the ride, too! So, after lunch on a Saturday afternoon, we sat on our respective couches and tried our hands at this puzzle.
I don't want to spoil the puzzle for anyone because I hate when somebody does that to me. But, I will confirm that I was NOT able to find solutions for all 40 of the numbers. Is that what should have happened? I think it is. Here's the exact wording from Will Shortz and NPR:
It says, "What number or numbers can you not get?" I will say that Shaun and I arrived at the exact same solution, so we are pretty confident in it. But, at the same time, I wouldn't be too surprised if someone showed me that my solution was wrong in some way.
I guess I'll have to wait a week for the solution to be posted...
Want the files to try this out with your own students? Or, maybe you just want to try the puzzle out for yourself? Here's the link to download the files.