Home » Academics » MATHEMATICS — MRS. MICHELLE MARINI ~ March 2019





When mathematicians try the “Guess and Check” problem-solving strategy, they can solve problems by guessing the answer, then checking if that guess fits the conditions of the problem.

This is a powerful method to solve differential equations, which are equations that involve an unknown function and its derivatives.  A mathematician’s guess is called a “conjecture” and checking the answer and proving it is valid is called a “proof.”  Did I just give you a flashback to Algebra class?  I assure you the purpose of trying this strategy is to help students view problems as purposeful and related to the real-world rather than taking you back to a fog of confusing Algebra lessons!  We want students to play and have fun with mathematics.

Let’s consider the difference between mathematical research and the problem solving that is most often performed in the classroom.  We would notice that mathematical research is often unknown, while problems in school have a known solution.  Therefore, exposing students to guess and check type of problems prepares them to solve real-world problems where checking solutions is a critical part of the process.

The first step in solving a “guess and check” problem is understanding the problem and determining the key pieces of information needed to find the answer.  Students might reread the problem several times or phrase the problem in their own words.  Next, students may make an educated guess and create a chart or table to keep track of the possible solutions.  Then check if the solution works and solves the problems.  If not, revise the guess based on whether it is too high or too low.

“Guess and check” is a flexible strategy that is often used as a starting point when solving a problem, and may be used when no other strategy is immediately obvious.

(2019, March: Problem Solving: Guess and Check, https://www.teachervision.com)

First, check out the video link below with your child to learn more about making an organized list as a problem solving strategy.

Guess and Check Video LINK

Next, your student can try out enrichment problems below.  There is at least one problem in each grade level band your student can try out the guess and check strategy.

Have fun with math!