# doug — off the record

just a place to share some thoughts

## Problems with words

I’ve mentioned a couple of times on this blog the work that Peter Beens has put into preparing a resource and sharing it with the world. The most popular one that I know of is his Google A-Z page. Here’s a post from this blog that dates back to 2012.

You’ll notice that it’s really up to date. He has a link to Floom that I blogged about a couple of weeks ago.

He keeps his eyes open and builds capacity for others and just shares it.

The other day, I ran across another project of his that I think is pretty impressive. Unless you’ve taught Computer Science, you may not realize just how impressive it actually is. As a Computer Science teacher, you’re always looking for exciting and engaging programs for students to write. In the early days, there was this focus on mathematics problems almost solely. Fortunately, we’ve got beyond that and now focus on other interesting problems for solution.

Now, it wasn’t that mathematics is a bad choice but there was this feeling among some students that they wouldn’t succeed in Computer Science because Mathematics wasn’t their favourite subject. In reality, Computer Science is all about problem solving and so there are many other things to do to mix in with the mathematics.

One whole genre is the concept of working with words. No, not mathematics word problems per se, but exploring interesting things about words and then writing a computer solution. Peter has started a public collection of word problems here on Github.

A couple of examples from the top:

1. What are the longest words in the list?
2. If a-1, b=2, etc., what words add up to 100?
3. What is the longest word that ends with “ar”.
4. What is the most common letter? Vowel? Consonant?

These are concepts and a Computer Science teacher would take the concept and craft it into an interest problem. I like the concept as the final problem might be different from teacher to teacher and therefore not realistic for students to share solutions.

At present, Peter has seeded the project and has another teacher, Ross Jamieson, make a contribution to it. I always enjoyed these problems with my students and I can tell you that there is no resource that I know of that you can go to and buy a set of problems like these. Resources like this are individually created or collaborated upon and shared by educators.

So, if you’re a Computer Science teacher, check it out and see if there’s inspiration there for you and your students. And just like your neighbourhood little library, take a problem, leave a problem.

I’m off to my personal archive to see if there’s a problem or two that I can share with Peter.

### 2 responses to “Problems with words”

1. […] Wednesday – Problems with Words […]

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2. Thanks so much for profiling this project, Doug! If anyone has additional challenges they’d like to contribute, please see https://github.com/pbeens/Programming-Word-Challenges#looking-for-contributors.

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