#### Logic & problem-solving saves wise man

An evil Emperor kidnapped the wisest man in the kingdom and said he was to be put to death. His family pleaded for his life, so the Emperor decided to have some evil fun and give the wise man a chance. The wise man is given 12 pills; 11 are poison and one is safe. The pills are identical except the safe one has a slightly differently weight. He is also given a balance on which he can weigh them. He can only make 3 weighings then he has to take one of the pills.
Designed for G&T years 9/10 this calls on all their logic and problem-solving skills. Ideally placed for collaborative working, where trial-and-error tests their ability to be wrong and yet try again. From a teaching perspective this is a real, practical, maths task, where the use of props such as Smarties or Tic-Tacs makes it more realistic than the static pencil and paper - or if you have access to some sort of ‘pod’, like those inside Kinder eggs, it’s very simple to make one slightly heavier than the rest to really bring it to life.
We Solve Problems is a charity, founded by three PhD mathematicians, whose aim is to promote the use of advanced mathematics within secondary schools. We want to encourage creative mathematical thinking, to develop a skill within pupils for presenting their results clearly and coherently, as well as promoting personal problem-solving skills. Visit us at wesolveproblems.org.uk.
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