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The oldest known math puzzle is called the Ostomachion Math Puzzle (also called Stomachion) and dates back two thousand years ago to Archimedes. The Term Ostomachion in Greek means bone fight, because these puzzles used to be made of bones and were played with several players. The puzzle is very similar to tangrams, which most people have heard of. It is a fun STEAM project for teaching!
The puzzle was found in Archimedes Palimpsest, a 10th century parchment copied from the original Archmedes text. I am a little crazy about ancient science, math and history, so I was excited to play around with this and to teach my kids about it.
The Ostomachion puzzle is 14 pieces and is called a dissection puzzle, meaning a shape is dissected into smaller shapes to be re-built. The cool thing is that it can be rebuilt in over 500 different ways! The puzzle can be used as a memory or brain teaser game or to create different shapes and objects with the pieces.
This math puzzle is a lot of fun to create and play with for kids and adults. We made our own Ostomachion math puzzle out of cardboard and paint and I am going to show you how you can make one, too!
How to Make an Ostomachion Math Puzzle
I made ours out of a piece of cardboard. I used the template below. I printed it, cut it, and traced it onto the cardboard.
Next cut out the cardboard pieces. Try hard to be as accurate as possible so the pieces all fit together well.
We painted our puzzle pieces front and back to make them more fun.
Once the paint is dry, it is time to try it out! The kids can start by copying the original template. Then, let them get creative and try to solve it in different ways. There are hundreds of options.
I love projects that combine two types of learning. This is an awesome math and art combo.
Have you seen my Math Art and Drawing Games for Kids book yet? It’s a book with more than 40 projects that combine math and art to make learning so much more fun and engaging for young learners!
This is part of the 28 Days of STEM & STEAM Activities for Kids series from Left Brain Craft Brain. Stop by her site to see all of the posts in the series.