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Pentomino Blocks – A STEM Math Game

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Have you heard of Pentominoes before? Pentomino blocks are geometric blocks that are used in math puzzles. Pentominoes are a set of 12 different shapes made by combining five equal squares edge to edge.

You can make your own set of pentominoes really easily and they are really a lot of fun to play with!

Pentomino Blocks- Math Puzzle

 

What are Pentominoes?

The word Pentomino comes from the Greek word for the number five (pente) and also from the -omino of dominos.

The creator, Solomon W. Golomb gave them this term with the interpretation that domino stands for the greek prefix of di- meaning the number two. There are twelve pentomino pieces. He gave each of the different shapes a name based on the letters of the Latin alphabet. (F, I, L, N, P, T, U, V, W, X, Y, Z)

Pentomino Blocks

Pentominoes became more widely known when they were introduced by Martin Gardner in 1965 in the Scientific American’s Mathematical Games column.

How to Make Pentominoes

I made these using colored one inch cubes and wood glue. You can see the 12 different shapes above. You need 60 cubes total to make all 12 pentomino shapes.

Pentominoes

There are several different Pentomino block shapes to create by joining them edge to edge.

You can make an 8 x 8 square with a hole in the center. Some of the others are 6×10, 5×12, 4×15, and 3×20 rectangles.

Pentomino problems are usually a rectangle of various sizes that you have to fill with the blocks. No overlapping or sections hanging off the edge allowed!

With each of these different shapes combined there are exactly 2339 solutions. You could play with it for hours! 😉

You can make this into a math puzzle game on an 8×8 grid with 2 or three players. Players take turns in placing pentominoes on the board so that they do not overlap with existing tiles and no tile is used more than once. The objective is to be the last player to place a tile on the board. This version of the Pentominoes game is called “Golomb’s Game” after the creator.

Pentomino Animals from Teach Beside Me

You can also do some other fun things with them, like create animals! Here are a few you can make including a dog, an elephant, a deer and a crocodile!

 

 

Want more fun ways to play with them? Check out the book Polyominoes by Solomon W. Golomb.

Looking for more STEAM Education Resources?

See Some of my other STEAM Education Ideas:

Building Electric Circuits: STEM Challenge Cards

Make Ten Math Game

How to Build a Strong Catapult: STEM Learning Activity

200+ Exciting Elementary STEM Projects

 

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One Comment

  1. After making the homemade paint balls, I was going to use them for a group of kids at our church’s bible school. To make sure they lasted until the next day, I refrigerated them overnight. They not only were more solid so they didn’t break too soon, they turned to jelly or jello and wouldn’t break even when thrown at someone! Don’t refrigerate!

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