Tag Archives: encouragement

Optimization Games for the Young (Part 2)

 A couple of weeks ago, I wrote a blog post in which I tell a story that motivated me to start creating games for children and young adults to get them excited about Operations Research/Prescriptive Analytics/Optimization and STEM in general. You can download my first two games here: Lego Furniture and Pack That Bag!

Since then, I can’t stop thinking about other games to create. I have four game ideas in my head right now and today I’m back to share my third one with you: Stop the Fire! This is actually based on a research problem on which I am working right now.

I hope you have a chance to play this and my other games with your young ones. Please let me know your experience with these games and any feedback you may have toward improving them in the comments below.

Keep playing!

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Filed under Analytics, Applications, Games, INFORMS K-12 Outreach, Integer Programming, Mathematical Programming, Modeling, Motivation, Promoting OR, Research, Teaching

Optimization Games for the Young

I’ve recently volunteered to be a part of the INFORMS K-12 Outreach Sub-Committee and the story behind this post has everything to do with my goals in helping the committee in its mission.

The 8-year-old daughter of one of my student’s significant other saw her doing homework and asked what it was. My student responded “optimization,” to which the 8yo replied “what’s optimization?” My student said she wasn’t able to provide a succinct enough explanation but the girl was interested and likes math in general. Therefore, I decided to take the opportunity and try to encourage this little girl. There are too few women in STEM fields, not because of lack of ability, but because insufficient encouragement and motivation. Maybe this gesture will make no difference in this girl’s life, but maybe it will. I can’t tell for sure, but I sure am going to try each and every time one of these opportunities comes up. I put together an envelope with 3 optimization games (with a little message on the outside) for my student to take home with her:

It’s often the case that little gestures can change a person’s life. I remember very clearly the tiny things my teachers / mentors / advisors / friends did that inspired me tremendously. I’m sure these people won’t even remember what they did because to them it might have been nothing. To the person on the receiving end, however, it meant a lot. This gesture is my attempt at paying it forward. To all of those who inspired and encouraged me throughout my life, thank you.

Several friends, upon hearing about this story, asked me for the games so they could play with their kids. One could argue that these are more like puzzles than games. I see them as games because you can have several people playing together, each trying it their own way, and teaching each other, or challenging each other, which creates a back-and-forth discussion where everybody learns something.

Here are the ones I created:

Lego Furniture game: http://moya.bus.miami.edu/~tallys/games/lego-furniture.pdf

Pack That Bag! game: http://moya.bus.miami.edu/~tallys/games/pack-that-bag.pdf

The third one, I got from the puzzlor.com website: Good Burger.

I hope these games become a source of fun for you and your kids as well. Enjoy!

By the way, the Lego pieces cut out of paper work pretty well:

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Filed under Analytics, Applications, Games, INFORMS, INFORMS K-12 Outreach, Integer Programming, Knapsack, Motivation, Promoting OR, Teaching