What’s the point of being good at puzzles?  Because they’re often based on maths and it’s a fun way to encourage children to exercise logical reasoning.

There’s more to maths than the basics of add, subtract, multiply and divide – when you get to more advanced concepts it’s all about working through logical progressions to solve ‘puzzles’.  Remember the maths problems from your schooldays?†

If it takes one man, one hour to dig a hole 1 metre square (OK in my day it was 3 feet square!) and 1 metre deep how long would it take two men to dig a hole that is 9 metres square by 1 metre deep?

But maths problems don’t have to be boring – do a little investigation and find some more engaging puzzles and get your kids doing these fun, but sometimes mind-bending problems and online number games.  Suduko is a great example of encouraging kids to use their basic maths skills, but there are more.

The Reader’s Digest used to have whole quizzes that challenged creative and logical thinking.  Questions would be things like:

Two fathers and two sons went duck hunting. Each shot a duck, but they shot only three ducks in all.  How is this possible?*

This requires lateral thinking to solve it – so it’s not an obvious route to an answer.  Another useful thinking skill.

In fact, Bletchley Park – the place where the codebreakers worked during the War (and since) and where Alan Turing famously broke the Enigma Code – is planning a new College of National Security.

It will be a sixth form college for boarders and will be free to the 500 successful students.  Funded by venture capital, corporate sponsorship – and maybe some state funds, it will teach cyber skills to talented students, alongside the traditional maths and science subjects.

The new college aims to develop the cyber security experts of the future to keep our country and industry safe.  Now there’s something for kids who love puzzles to aspire to!


†4 ½ hours

*They were three generations, a son, father and grandfather.  The father is a son AND a father, but only shot one duck.