Volume 54, Number 2, March-April 2020
|Page(s)||585 - 595|
|Published online||05 March 2020|
Making high school students aware of optimization through games and puzzles
Istituto Tecnico V. Bachelet, Via R. Bovelli 7, Ferrara, Italy
2 DEIB – Politecnico di Milano, Piazza L. da Vinci 32, Milan, Italy
* Corresponding author: firstname.lastname@example.org
Accepted: 22 January 2019
Optimization is among the oldest mathematical applications in history: human nature tends to obtain the best results with the minimum effort, in many sectors. Nevertheless, optimization and operations research as mathematical disciplines struggle to find their place in high school syllabi and it is usually very hard to explain what they are about to students and common people. This could be due to a lack of “optimization culture” that prevents one to see that many problems that we tackle everyday are actually optimization problems, or a lack of mathematical culture in a broader sense. With this paper we report on a small experience carried out in an Italian high school where we attempted to close this gap. Rather than using a conventional approach, we introduced a set of games, puzzles and challenges based on optimization problems that stimulated students’ intuition and creativity. Indeed the aim of this experiment was not teaching specific optimization methods, but starting the construction of an “optimization awareness” in the students.
Mathematics Subject Classification: 97D80 / 97D50 / 90C27
Key words: Creativity / intuition / applied mathematics / optimization / operations research / active learning / orienteering
© EDP Sciences, ROADEF, SMAI 2020
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