Lesson Preview

Teach Advanced Problem Solving
with Contraption Maker

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Theory

Advanced Problem Solving

Today you learn strategies for overcoming advanced puzzles! With careful analysis and a methodical approach, you can overcome any problem with sufficient time.

Teacher Resources

  • Theory: This lesson has your students solve advanced puzzles, utilizing problem solving and logical thinking.
  • Play: The students complete puzzles in Contraption Maker.
  • Share & Discuss: These tasks focus on the playing experience and the process of completing puzzles.

Strategy

When approaching difficult puzzles, it’s a good idea to follow a series of steps. You can repeat steps if necessary, but try to cover all the following:

  1. Make sure you understand what the goal is. (click on the flag symbol to see what the goal of the puzzle is)
  2. Try running the puzzle without changing anything. What happens? How could you take advantage of what is happening? Try this several times while solving the puzzle.
  3. Make sure you understand what each part does (click on the ? if there is a part you’re not familiar with).
  4. Think of how you can achieve the goal with the parts that you have.
  5. Be aware that some parts you have might not have a purpose in the puzzle.
  6. Try out your theories and solve the puzzle. If you have trouble, repeat some of the above steps or ask for help from your classmates or the teacher. Also try considering the puzzle as smaller separate segments.

Teacher Resources

A condensed version of this strategy slide is provided for your students as they are playing.

Play

Lesson Goal

Play Contraption Maker! You now get to play advanced puzzles in the game. Select the Medium Mind Bogglers puzzle set and play up to the first five puzzles (Shed Construction - Break the Ice).

Gameplay screenshot.

Teacher Resources

Go through this slide together to make sure the students know what the lesson goal is. The next slide includes a method for approaching these difficult puzzles.

Strategy

When approaching difficult puzzles, it’s a good idea to follow a series of steps. You can repeat steps if necessary, but try to cover all the following:

  1. Make sure you understand what the goal is.
  2. Try running the puzzle without changing anything.
  3. Make sure you understand what each part does.
  4. Think of how you can achieve the goal with the parts that you have.
  5. Be aware that some parts you have might not have a purpose in the puzzle.
  6. Try out your theories and solve the puzzle.

Teacher Resources

These guidelines help your students approach the puzzles systematically, potentially solving them. The puzzles are, however, so difficult that they still might have trouble. It can be a good idea for you to check out the solutions to these five puzzles on YouTube (Mission Control, Status: Hungry, Recycling Day, Cannonball!, Feed the Beast) so you can offer tips for the students if they have trouble. If there is time, the students can continue playing further puzzles in the same category (levels 6 and onward).

When there are about 5-10 minutes remaining, move on the next slides.

Share & Discuss

Share & Discuss

  • Were these puzzles notably harder than the ones you’ve played before? Why? Why not? How?
  • How many puzzles did you manage to complete? Did the strategies offered help you out?
  • Do you enjoy difficult puzzles?

Tasks after Playing

  • Was there some kind of strategy you used that was not listed? What was it?
  • Is any segment of the strategy list something that you didn’t need while solving puzzles? Why?
  • How can strategies such as these be used in everyday problems? What is the core philosophy behind these kind of strategies?
Show Notes

The core idea/philosophy behind this kind of problem solving is to deconstruct difficult problems into smaller segments, so they are far more easier to solve.

This kind of approach is crucial in real life: if you have to study for a test, don’t consider all the subjects of the test at the same time. Instead, divide the test’s themes into smaller categories, and start improving your skills with the themes you have the most difficulty with (an alternate strategy is to improve your strengths, especially if the test doesn’t require you to master everything). Any difficult problem can be made easier with this kind of deconstructive approach.