23 Sep 2013

Word Games

Words are important. Picking the right word can make the difference between a sentence that sparkles and one that... peters out limply. A dictionary and thesaurus help, but you can't look for a word that you don't know exists! Building up one's vocabulary can seem like a long task, but this is where word games can be a fun way to discover new words.

I personally like doing cryptic crosswords, but they take some training to understand the clues, never mind figuring out the actual answers. Below is a small selection of some slightly easier word games.

Ouverture Facile: A Riddle Game

Last week, a number of students were playing Ouverture Facile, an online riddle game. It’s an interesting game and reminds me of something similar that was online at about the same time (2005) but has since been taken down. I helped a little bit with some of the mathematical puzzles and got to know the programmer.

Both games share the aim that the puzzles build one upon the other and that they ultimately guide the player to some new knowledge, be it some code or mathematics, or using a new piece of software or the structure of the internet.

Escape the Room Puzzle Games

There is a genre of games known as “escape the room”. These are minimalist flash video games in which you are locked inside a... room, or rooms, and have to figure out how to escape. if you've never tried such games, have a go at The Viridian Room first.

The Crimson Room is perhaps the most famous (and the smallest) such game however, there is one clue that requires going to a specific URL and last time I tried to play it the information was out of date and did not work. This may have been fixed; you’ll know it when you see it! Lots of other similar escape games at Escape Room.

9 Sep 2013

Learning to Program Online (Programming 1)

Most of you have already got started on Codecademy. This is good to see, but there are some other options.

The first question to ask yourself is: which programming language should I learn first? Note that a static webpage will require HTML and CSS; an interactive webpage may well require jQuery, PHP and JavaScript too. Learning everything is a lot of work!

The MA Primary Maths Challenge (Mathematics 1)

 One good place to start is the Mathematical Association's Primary Maths Challenge page.

There is one online PMC that is automatically marked at the end of the test. Try it out and let me know your score! Don't forget that this is not a mental maths test - you are expected to have pen and paper handy to do many of the calculations.

You can also download past paper, but make sure you try each paper before looking at the answers!