RCG Towers is proposing the construction of a new tower in Woeldersville. The company is asking all local engineering firms to build a toothpick tower that reaches the height of the reading table. See the promo video below. 

Here’s some of the initial questions the engineers came up with.

Here’s the engineering challenge:






Okay, NOBODY got the correct solution to the problem of figuring out the total number of blocks needed to build my pyramid.

The video link below shows some examples of students’ solutions. There’s  some good examples of thinking strategies, and some good feedback on how they might be improved.

You will have to carefully watch the video below, then re-do your solution and bring it in for Thursday’s class.



Here’s a solution to the triangle problem we looked at and built models for on Friday. You can see it fits all five of our criteria: E-A-T-U-S

  • Efficient
  • Accurate 
  • Thinking is visible 
  • Understanding is clear 
  • Strategies are appropriate; it makes sense 

What I like about this solution compared to some others we looked at is that it is really efficient. Efficient solutions are important, but don’t sacrifice understanding something to do it quicker. Take your time and do the work if you need to, or the other criteria (understanding, accuracy, showing thinking) won’t be well done. 

This student has clearly shown where his answer is and he has explained how he got it. His table (strategy) makes sense and we can easily check his addition calculations. He has clearly communicated and shows that he really understands what is required in the problem. 

The Division 4 “How To” Series

IMG_0127In a class like division four, there is a lot of expertise and experience in most of life’s really important things. It would be really, really selfish for us to keep all this knowledge to ourselves. So, at this festive and generous time of year it would be most seasonally appropriate for us to freely give this knowledge to our subscribers and the worldwide audience.


  1. How to be a Really Good Soccer Player (by Bryce)
  2. How to Make Hot Cocoa (by Kayden)
  3. How to Be Flexible (by Lindsay)
  4. How to Accept Defeat in a Soccer Game (by Daniel)
  5. How to Build a Sandcastle (by Kyan G.)
  6. How to Get Someone to Eat Sand (by Jaden)
  7. How to Miss Hockey in the Morning (by Justin)
  8. How to Play Basketball (by Owen)
  9. How to Shoot a Puck Hard (by Ryan)
  10. How to break your old water bottle to get a new one with only using water (by Brianna)
  11. How to use your I pad (by Norah)
  12. How to Fake Brushing Your Teeth  (by James)
  13. How To Make A Fortune Teller (by Kyan C.)
  14. How to Roast a Perfect Marshmallow (by Abby)
  15. How to be a Really Good Ice Skater  (by Jacob)
  16. How to Survive a Really Long Car Ride (by Lily)
  17. How to Convince Your Parents to Get a Dog (by Karon)
  18. How to Build a Snowman and Sew a Funky Scarf (by Ashlynn)
  19. How to Get a Dog When Your Mom and Dad Don’t Want One (by Bleona)
  20. How To Break Wood In Taekwondo (by Aichen)
  21. How to do a Tornado Kick (by Jasleen)
  22. How to Be a Good Goal Keeper (by Michael)
  23. How to be an Amazing Hockey Player(by Kade)
  24. How to Style Your Hair (by Ty)
  25. How to do a Back Hand Spring(by Alexia)
  26. How to Make A Paper Airplane (by Markus)
  27. (by Ireh)
  28. How to Make Origami Pikachu (by Bowen)
  29. (by Abishek)
  30. How to Be a Good Midfielder (by Elijah)



The above problem covers some important points of problem solving.

  1. Identify: What is the question?
  2. Plan: What strategy will I use?
  3. Solve: Carry out your plan. Make your thinking visible.
  4. Check: Does my answer make sense?

Criteria for a Good Solution:

  • Is EFFICIENT. Doesn’t use unnecessary steps.
  • Provides an ACCURATE answer using numbers, pictures or words.
  • Shows your THINKING and calculations. Uses an effective strategy.
  • Proves that you UNDERSTAND the concept or topic.
  • Makes SENSE and is easy to understand.

A solution that EXCEEDS EXPECTATIONS will find something missing, or extends your thinking to make a connection to the “real world” in some way.