Problem Solving Mathematics

Problem Solving Math is an important part of Mathematics where the emphasis is on the students ability to approach problems and think critically. Solutions often involve using elementary knowledge in a novel way.

Problem Solving Maths is a first step towards Olympiad/competition maths and competitions such as the Rwandan Mathematics Olympiad (Currently being set up), the Pan-African Mathematics Olympiad (Rwanda will send a team in 2020) and the International Mathematics Olympiad.

The following material is suitable for students from Senior 3 to Senior 6, as a first introduction to problem solving mathematics.

The problem sheets were created at University College Cork, Ireland, and shared here with the permission of the Irish Maths Trust. Other resources can be found on their website, in particular math circles.

Teachers
The problem sheets are designed for math clubs – where students are allowed to work together on the problem sheets in an informal environment. Please read the pdf below called “teachersguidelines” for advice of how to set up an effective math club.

The problems can also be used to set up a “problem of the week”, or as puzzles to entertain students.

The material here does not come with answers. When we do problem solving, the important thing is the process of trying to solve the problem. Whether you get the right answer is not so important, and in many cases, when you have the answer, there is no need to check it with a solution. However, it is useful if you are a teacher to have the solutions, if you need them please email jessica.weitbrecht@aims.ac.rw with the subject line “Problem Solving Solutions”.

Students
If there isn’t a math club in your school, you can still introduce yourself to problem solving maths! It’s easier if you can convince a friend to join you. Note that the problems use material learnt in Senior 1, Senior 2 and Senior 3, but they are still very challenging. Please see the pdf called “studentguidelines” for advice on how to be an effective problem solver. No matter what year you are in, these worksheets are an effective introduction to problem solving maths.

downloadable appendices
Teachers Guidelines
Student Guidelines
Games
1_Parity Party1
2_Parity Party2
3_Counting
4_Set Game Template
4_set instructions
4_Set Instructions And Problems
4_Set Sample Game DontPrint
5_Distributivity
6_Word Problems
7_Intriguing Indices
8_Shrinking Squares
9_Superb Sums