By Alexandra Brocato
Byram Hills will be hosting the first Puzzle Day next Saturday, December 16. Around 100 students will be competing in teams of 2-5 to solve the challenging logic puzzles. Ruth Beinhacker, a junior competing on a team for Puzzle Day shares her excitement: “I can’t wait to work with my friends and solve fun puzzles (and hopefully win the whole thing as well!).”
Essentially, students are given two hours and fifteen minutes to solve as many of the eight mind puzzles that they can. “They aren’t necessarily math or computer science related,” Mrs. Pellegrino, head of Mu Alpha Theta, remarks. Therefore, all students are encouraged to participate in this event. Unlike the AMCs, which are intensive math exams offered each year, Puzzle Day does not require any mastery of high level math or years of knowledge. The puzzles are very general and ask you to apply a wide range of skills. Each of the solutions to the puzzles results in a word. “So for one of the puzzles, you have to recognize they were tetris pieces that when moved around, would form the word ‘jolt’,” Mrs. Pellegrino adds.
Puzzle day is an event that originated at Harvard; during the event, students are challenged to think critically and experience the joy of problem solving. Yale has also brought Puzzle Day to their campus. The overall goal of Puzzle Day is to encourage students to enjoy working on problems whether in a math, science or computer science class. Mrs. Pellegrino “was at Harvard this summer preparing for the new Computer Science Principle class.” She originally “wanted to bring a math night to Byram Hills.” After much consideration, she decided that with Puzzle Day, math could be promoted in a fun and relaxed environment.
Ultimately, Puzzle Day is meant to “get students involved in the math community and exposed to harder puzzles that don’t require a procedure or algorithm. It encourages students to work with problems they would face in the real world” says senior and Puzzle Day laison, Jackson Deitelzweig. Parents and teachers are welcome too!
During Puzzle Day, students are encouraged to bring computers, as some of the puzzles require online access. The event will take place in the cafeteria, and there will be prizes for the team that gets the most puzzles and the team that displays the most perseverance and collaboration. Mrs. Pellegrino adds that, “there is a puzzle day playlist from Harvard, which we may be using”—all the more reason to come to event! To practice a puzzle from a prior year, visit the link here.
Mrs. Pellegrino and the rest the Mu Alpha Theta staff hope to make Puzzle Day an annual occurrence. In fact, “at some point, we would like to expand this and perhaps involve other schools as well” says Mrs. Pellegrino. Senior Marina Triebenbacher, Co-president of Mu Alpha Theta, notes that “Puzzle Day is a unique and fun way to get together with friends and solve challenging problems!”
I highly encourage all to participate in this enjoyable and competitive event. Sign up here. As Jackson eloquently remarks, “Puzzle day will be a blast. And there will be free pizza.”