It is always a good idea to steer off the beaten predictable road of what we should be doing and chart a new path with some novel, unrelated exciting venture – in all aspects of life really. With only 3 hours/week with a student trying to get those high school credits along with a rigorous sport schedule, it never seems like one has enough time to lend this steering off the beaten path. Though grades and course completion are extremely important, peripheral adventures within your subject matter and non-routine tasks are equally as important and (let’s face it) sometimes more lasting with students. 

With course pacing schedules constantly in view and looming midterms and assignments, Alex (Freshman Geometry student at PBIA) and I have managed to still find time to delve into some logic/reasoning and strategy building through games and even a bit of game theory. After a crushing confession that she is interested in pursuing an area of study other than mathematics *gasp* (which she is amazing at, might I add), I decided to dabble in a bit of other stuff to try and sway her interest. We have looked at figuring out effective strategies for games such as Mancala – a turn based strategy game that involves capturing your opponent’s pieces. We have also engaged in some mathematical discourse regarding the Monty Hall problem and the Prisoners’ Dilemma – all things that have been quite engaging and interesting for Alex. Though I may never sway her career interest, Alex and I have had some interesting conversations and made a few discoveries on this new path. This has definitely given rise to a greater curiosity into the breadth of the subject of mathematics and more conversations about peripheral mathematics topics – which can’t be bad thing.

Infusing novelty and pursuing the unplanned on what otherwise can be a routine race to finish can be stressful but sometimes necessary for breaking up the monotony of a course. If it is one thing that forcibly being quarantined has reminded me, it is the beauty of the unplanned. Scary times no doubt, a life disruptor if there ever was one but, as all those previously thought “crucial” deadlines casually pass us by at home on the sofa let us chart a new path with some novel, unrelated exciting venture.

To Sergio, Alex’s Academic Director – I promise we will be finished in time🤞🏽

https://www.mathplayground.com/mancala.html