Children in an assembly | Hint

Here are a few hints to solve the problem listed here

When you need to solve slightly ambiguous problems like this one, follow a structured thought process.

  1. Read it carefully and explain the ask to someone else
  2. Represent the problem visually
  3. List what information you have and what else you would like
  4. For information missing can u make assumptions? Enumerate all possibilities
  5. Try solving with multiple approaches

Step #2 … representation

Step #3 & #4 …

Children in an assembly | Problem

(Source: USSR Maths Olympiad)

200 hundred students are positioned in 10 rows and 20 columns at a school assembly.

From each of the 20 columns the shortest student is selected. The tallest of these 20 short students is tagged A. They return back to their places.

Next the tallest student from each row is selected, and from these tall students the shortest is tagged as B.

Which of the two students tagged is taller, assuming they are different people?

Purva Fairmont Session 2

We had 3 more additions today into our program. It was fascinating to see how the current kids explained to them what they understood … and brought them upto speed.

Most of the time we spent reviewing the designs and ideas of each team. Think we managed to sharpen their designs and focus them towards building the hydraulic system. We have three weeks to do this.

As a next step we asked all the teams to collect required  material and start building the mechanism this week.


Post the design session we talked about an interesting study in Sociology.

Two teams were given similar puzzles to solve. Team A and Team B.

Two teams

At the end of the activity, the two teams were given feedback differently. Team A was told “That’s a really good score. You must be smart“. Team B was told “That’s a really good score. You must have worked very hard“.

Feedback to two teams

Post that conversation, the two teams were given a choice of solving a difficult problem or an easy problem.

What do you think each team picked?

Choice for two teams

Most children opined that both teams pick the easy problem, some said the difficult problem, a few said Team A the easy problem while Team B picks the difficult problem.

Well the interesting thing was that the Team A praised for ‘smartness’ picked the easy problem as they were more afraid to fail than Team B, (Team B was praised for ‘hard work’ and they which picked the more difficult problem).

This is fascinating. Just one small comment can alter a person’s mind set. As parents, how conscious are we about creating the wrong mind set in children unknowingly. Can we be more aware of the long term damage we create by praising intelligence or talent, instead of the process / efforts?

(Source: Praise Children for effort, not intelligence – NYTimes article on a Columbia University Study by Claudia Mueller and Carol Dweck)

Then we all watched the video The power of believing you can improve – A TED talk on Growth Mindset vs Talent Mindset by Dr. Carol Dweck. All children gave their interpretation of the concept and how they will apply it in their lives.

As a next steps each child will watch the video with their parents before the next session.

Found the kids opening up a lot more than the last session. These seeds we plant today to build the right learning mind set, should bloom many years later.

Very exciting.

Movies as a teaching aid

Most children (and adults) love movies. Movies can make us laugh, cry, jump up and dream. Movies bring many elements including story telling, characters, emotions, visualiztion, sound and others together.

Movies are a subjective expression of the writers, actors, camera-persons, technicians and directors. Often, there are layers in the expression of each of these players. Critically interpreting a scene requires one to go beneath the obvious. It requires one to go beyond just describing the scene, to explaining it. To use one’s imagination to view the scene from the eyes of the creator.


(The same arguments holds true for art, literature or music !!)

Teaching children to understand those nuances can be fun way to develop the critical thinking as well as finer appreciation of art. Not just art, may be of life itself.