May 22, 2014

Human Knot Reasoning

Yesterday was our last advisory of the year. We had advisory once or twice a month for an hour. We started this schedule in June of last year and it's had some pluses and minuses. At the beginning of the period I had students reflect on their year - in general, in school and in advisory. I'll probably read and post about them sometime this weekend. Then we played games including pictionary, charades and at the end of the block, the human knot.

There was some interesting reasoning occurring as they worked to untangle themselves in the human knot.

There's an odd number of hands!
They were making a joke when someone couldn't find a hand to grab onto. Love math jokes!

At the end the order will go: me, then A, then B, then C. 
This was at the very beginning where everyone was in a complete tangle. She was tracing the path and envisioning the end result. Which also helped her consider the consequence of moving - since every time she moved she had to drag A, B and C along behind her.

Is it always solvable?
I shared a few examples of results I've seen - one circle, two separate loops, interlocking loops - I wonder what their definition of solvable is. Sadly the bell rang before they were able to untangle and see what kind of result they would have. It was a really tough knot because they were working together and listening to kids outside the knot who had a clearer perspective and it was still slow progress.

I got a few photos and another student took a video that will be fun to share at our first advisory next year (they're sophomores now so we get to spend two more years together). Maybe next year we'll solve a knot with everyone participating!

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