Tuesday, April 5, 2016

Math Dice

The gifted teacher at Connor and Helen's school runs a Math Dice team. Math Dice is a game for math nerds, so our house is totally up to the task of playing it. And, because some members of the house are supernerds (cough *Ed* cough), we not only play math dice at our house, our resident supernerd created a computer program that can play math dice against you.

And so it was that for a few weeks, we'd play math dice after Helen went to bed. Connor is a somewhat savvy player, but I'm a "blurt it out if you got it" kind of player, which means Connor would do much better in a tournament than me.

In brief - you roll two twelve-sided die.
Multiply the numbers you roll - this is your target.
Roll 3 six-sided die and use those three numbers to make an equation that gets you as close to the target as possible.

For example, if we rolled an 8 and 6 in the first step, the target would be 48.

If we rolled a 2, 3, and 6 on the next step, the winning equation would be 2^3*6.

If Connor and I were playing, I would shout "36 (6*3*2), no, 48 - bam! Old lady has mad skillz" and Connor would look at the dice carefully, and then say "48" and remind me that only your first answer matters. He would get the point. Although Connor has basically modified the rules when he plays with me to be that he has to land on the correct answer before I do, which gives him a lot more challenge since the modified rules allow me to get my best answer, not my first answer.

There is a trade-off between speed and accuracy - and basically the first responder is stuck with her first answer, and the second responder can take as long as they wish. This fact becomes important at tournament time.

At first, probably half the 5th grade wanted to be on the 6 person math dice team, but after many lunches playing the game, I suspect the group was whittled down to about a quarter of the kids (about 20 kids?). Connor made the team, and he was thrilled. He also got chosen as one of the 4 people on the team who participates in what is known as the "head-to-head" portion of the tournament. Students were selected for the team based on their "paper challenges" which is a version of the game where you have as much time as you want to write down your answers and then head-to-head play with other students.

At the tournament, you get points for each head-to-head win you get, and the time allotted to do this is capped. That means, a player who can get through a lot of rolls has an advantage over a player who only rolls a few times. I've heard that students intentionally try to slow the game down when they're against a good opponent, which can hurt that opponent overall. They stare at the dice after the first responder and take a ton of time before either giving their own answer or conceding the point.

Math Dice has served as a great respite from the rest of school, and we are so lucky to have this great program at our school. We'll be cheering Connor on in a few weeks as he attempts to bring home an individual and team award for our school. Historically, our school has not done very well at the tournament - but Connor is really trying to change that.

Go TEAM! and go Connor!!


1 comment:

  1. Congrats Connor, for making the team. Have fun and Good Luck! Grandma Carlene