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Using Mathematical Patterns to Problem Solve

In this post, I will present two patterns for you to look at with the hopes that you will try to dissect them and be able to answer a few questions.  Are you ready?  Here is the first one that I call Consecutive Number Series.

What counting pattern do you see in this sequence?  How would you describe the sequence of numbers that are being added?  What pattern do you see in the answers?  Can you figure out the pattern for 8 × 8 and 9 × 9?  Notice this pattern made a triangle.  Do you know what kind it is?

My next pattern I call The Eights, and you will readily see why. It, too, forms a triangle, but a different kind. Do you recognize this triangle as isosceles?  If you take a ruler, you will find that the base is 4" while the sides are both 3".

What do you think will happen if we take this same pattern and add a 0?  Notice that this pattern does not begin with adding an eight.  Can you figure out why?

I use this type of patterns with my remedial math college students because I consider it important to do some problem solving while recognizing and describing patterns.  After all, problem solving is a part of life.  It doesn't occur in a vacuum. Because students must reason about some specific content, I think patterns are a great place to begin.  Problem solving also helps students to make connections to other parts of mathematics and find some relevance to what they are learning.  And did you know, that problem solvers are typically better test takers?  So take these patterns, and create some of your own questions for your students.  Use them in a journal or as a small group activity.  But whatever you do, have fun learning and discovering patterns in math.