The Polar Bear Club Question
Date: 17 Mar 1995 17:03:50 -0500 From: Mary Pierick Subject: Math games Dear Ask Dr. Math Staff, I am a fifth grade teacher and I am looking for some information on a math game. I am beginning to think this is the ultimate IMPOSSIBLE MISSION! Some colleagues of mine remember learning a game called Petals Around the Rose (or Petals Around the Rows). The game is played with dice and was designed to help gifted/ talented kids learn what it feels like to hear the same directions over and over without understanding them. If you can find out anything, I would be forever grateful. If you can't, maybe you can point me in the right direction. I have already tried countless other teachers, math professors, and professional journals. Thanks for anything you can find! Mary Pierick Tavelli Elementary Ft. Collins, CO
Date: 17 Mar 1995 18:31:22 -0500 From: Sarah Seastone Subject: Re: Math games Hi there, One possibility for the game you are trying to find may be a riddle that was taught to us at a Geometry Forum workshop last summer by Ruth Carver, a math teacher at Mount St. Joseph Academy in Flourtown, Pennsylvania. Unfortunately, as an official card-carrying member of the Polar Bear Club, I am sworn to secrecy and may not reveal the answer. The game does involve dice and directions heard over and over without understanding--until the light suddenly dawns. Here's the riddle, which is printed on the back of the card: The game is in the name of the game, invented in the days of Genghis Kahn, polar bears around an ice hole. Like petals around a rose, you can count each bear's nose. (Toss a handful of dice -- about 6.) How many polar bears do you see? Once someone guesses the riddle and can say the right number of polar bears for three consecutive tosses of the dice, he or she takes an oath not to reveal the secret and becomes a Certified Polar Bear. :-) I hope this helps. Very sorry I can't reveal the answer to the riddle. -- Sarah (Keeper of the Dr. Math Archive) Seastone P.S. You could write to Ruth Carver directly: firstname.lastname@example.org -- I'll send her a copy of this message.
Date: 17 Mar 1995 18:33:34 -0500 From: Anonymous Subject: Re: math games Hi Mary, Now, before I give away the secret, let's try a few rolls: Suppose the dice came up a five and a four. Then there would be four polar bears. If it came up a two and a three, there would be two polar bears. If you need more clues, give me a few more rolls to respond to with your guess of the number of bears. -- steve "chief of staff"
Date: 17 Mar 1995 19:18:51 -0500 From: Mary Pierick Subject: Re: math games Steve, Wow, I was looking for something to teach to my high-achieving kids and it doesn't sound like you are going to make this easy on me! That's OK. I think I'm up to the challenge. Nothing scares me--I'm a teacher! :-) Your clues were intriguing but I'm not sure that I have this figured out yet. I'd very much like to be an official member of this club so how about these rolls: 1. roll a one and a two (answer is zero?) 2. roll a six and a three (answer is two?) Go easy on me if my answers are completely crazy. I have heard that higher-level thinkers have more difficulty with this game...! Can you play with more than two dice? If so, how would that work? How about some examples? Thanks for your quick response. Take your time getting back to me this time--I'll be logging off until tomorrow. Mary Pierick
Date: 18 Mar 1995 09:14:10 -0500 From: Anonymous Subject: Re: math games Sorry, I've been sworn to make members earn their membership. You know how it is. ; ) "Your clues were intriguing but I'm not sure that I have this figured out yet. I'd very much like to be an official member of this club so how about these rolls: 1. roll a one and a two (answer is zero?)" right. "2. roll a six and a three (answer is two?)" right "Can you play with more than two dice? If so, how would that work? How about some examples?" Absolutely. In fact I recommend doing this with five or six dice. Imagine a roll of six dice. A six, five, four, three, two, and one come up. How many polar bears? -- steve
Date: 18 Mar 1995 14:17:22 -0500 From: Mary Pierick Subject: Re: math game Steve, Your loyalty to the Polar Bear Club is commendable albeit frustrating to those of us who are still struggling with the game! :-) Rest assured, however, that once I am an official member, I will not let someone else's frustration sway me from my oath. In fact, there are a couple of kids in my class whose frustration will give me great satisfaction...! OK, I think I've got it. If the dice showed 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, I would see 6 polar bears. How'd I do? Mary
Date: 18 Mar 1995 15:21:02 -0500 From: Stephen Weimar Subject: Re: math game "OK, I think I've got it. If the dice showed 6, 5, 4, 3, 2, 1, I would see 6 polar bears. How'd I do?" Great! Of course with the kids, I would make it a little harder by giving them no sample rolls and answers to start with, just the rules. But we have to compensate for those of us whose brains are stiff with age. : ) -- steve
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