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#MathAware Challenge 1: Magic JiJi Squares

In honor of Mathematics Awareness Month (#MathAware), we invite you to participate in a series of challenges that will be posted on this blog throughout April. You can tackle them solo, with family and friends, or as class projects — the more, the merrier!

Our first challenge — “Magic JiJi Square” — pays homage to the 2014 #MathAware theme: Mathematics, Magic, and Mystery. As you may know, a Magic Square is an arrangement of numbers in a square grid where the numbers in each row and column, and even those arranged diagonally, all add up to the same sum, like this:

jiji math square

As you can see, every row, column and diagonal line add up to 15, like so:

jiji math square results


For more information about magic squares, as well as quick (and entertaining) video demos, check out the #MathAware web page about Mysterious Magic Squares.

If you’re ready to move on to our challenge, here’s your mission: Instead of creating a traditional magic square using numbers, create a visually based Magic JiJi Square using ST Math puzzles. Here’s an example:

jiji math square visual

Those of you familiar with ST Math know the goal of each game is to help JiJi the penguin across the screen — either by filling a hole in the ground, creating a bridge, removing an obstacle, or somehow creating an unobstructed path. In the above Magic JiJi Square, every row, column and diagonal line represent solutions to puzzles from one of the ST Math kindergarten games, where holes in the ground need to be filled by blocks. Here it is again, with a few of the solutions illustrated:  

jiji math square solutions

Your Magic JiJi Square doesn’t have to be 3x3; larger or even 2x2 grids are OK to use. Also, your puzzle doesn’t have to be based on the sum adding up to the same value. As long as each row/column/diagonal is a solution to the same game, that’s what we would consider a Magic JiJi Square.

Are you (and your students) up to the challenge? 

You can use any ST Math game, from “Upright JiJi” to “How Many Shoes?” And if you don’t have ST Math at your school, no worries. The MIND Research website features a fractions demo, JiJi Cycle, and we offer free iPad apps, BigSeed and KickBox. Several videos on our YouTube channel also include game demos, including the “Teaching Math Without Words” TEDx talk by our COO and co-founder, Matthew Peterson, and “Welcome to ST Math.”

We can’t wait to see what you come up with! Post photos/screenshots of your Magic JiJi Square (sketches are A-OK) on our Facebook page or tweet them using #JiJiSquare to @JiJiMath by April 18 for a chance to win JiJi goodies! 

If you have any questions about the challenge, please post a comment below.

Abby Daniels

About the Author

Abby Daniels was Director of Communications at MIND Research Institute, where she worked for over 10 years as the organization transformed from a small, local nonprofit to a national leader in education.


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