Ready for PRIME time? Middle school students help write books of math puzzles


Bret Hovell

What did you do with your middle and high school years?

Whatever it was, it probably wasn't as cool as what Aidan Macias, Porter Aller and other students in fifth through ninth grades have done — they’ve published a book of math puzzles.

Aller, a high school sophomore, and 13 middle school students, including Macias, a sixth grader, are co-authors of a book that came out in April called “MATHadazzles Mind Stretch Puzzles: Reasoning with Fractions.” 

"It improved my ability to think ahead and visualize the problem outcomes and determine the right number,” Macias said. "I learned math concepts and tools that weren’t part of my curriculum, yet.”

The "MATHadazzles" series is a program within ASU’s Practice, Research and Innovation in Mathematics Education (PRIME) Center, which works to expand the interest of students in the STEM fields through research and development projects. 

"MATHadazzles Mind Stretch Puzzles" books each have 78 math puzzles that require problem solvers to use clues to figure out the solutions.

Now, the "MATHadazzles" program is looking for more students in fifth through ninth grades to enroll to help faculy and students develop the next book, "MATHadazzles Mind Stretch Puzzles: Reasoning with Decimals,” Saturday, Sept. 17, and Saturday, Sept. 24.

Carole Greenes, PRIME Center director, and Mary Cavanagh, executive director, are both authors of hundreds of mathematics books for kids.

They decided to include young students in the authoring phase of their work as a way to connect with the audience they were working to serve.

“It’s fun to see how excited the kids get, and how gratified they are when they are making progress with this,” Cavanagh said.

Macias and Aller will be on hand to lead a demonstration of the construction of "MATHadazzles" books later this month. 

For information and to enroll, please visit the PRIME Center Website or contact Carole GreenesMary Cavanagh, or James Kim, the PRIME center project manager.