Match Sticks in the Summer
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Ivars Peterson (MathLand)  
One of the presenters at the Strens conference was mathematician Heiko Harborth of the Braunschweig Technical University in Germany. "Match sticks are [among] the cheapest and simplest objects for puzzles which can be both challenging and mathematical," he insisted. He handed out a box of matches to anyone who preferred working on matchstick puzzles instead of listening to his lecture. One group of matchstick problems that he described involves constructing patterns in which a given number of sticks meet end to end, without crossing each other, at every point in a geometric figure on a flat surface. For example, a figure made up of three sticks laid out as an equilateral triangle has two sticks meeting at each corner. Three sticks is the smallest number that can be used to create a pattern in which two sticks meet at every vertex. The problem is tougher when three sticks must meet at every corner...  


Levels:  Middle School (68), High School (912), College 
Languages:  English 
Resource Types:  Manipulatives, Problems/Puzzles, Articles 
Math Topics:  Polyhedra, Triangles and Other Polygons 
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