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Doubled F

Pentomino Labs

by Henri Picciotto

Two whole-class challenges, leading to nice bulletin board displays. Both are developed more fully in my book Working with Pentominoes (Where to get it.) However, to carry them out, you need only plastic pentominoes and one-inch graph paper. Or use my Virtual Pentominoes.

Getting Started

Before tackling those challenges, two introductory activities:

Pentomino Rectangles

A large-scale project for a class is to search for all possible pentomino rectangles (all sizes), and then all possible pentomino rectangle pairs. See Simultaneous Pentomino Rectangles for an account of the number of possible solutions (which you don't have to reveal to your students.)

12-pentomino rectangles are thoroughly discussed in Solomon Golomb's book Polyominoes (Princeton University Press, NJ, 1994.)

Pentomino Blowups

Another project is to try to cover scaled pentominoes with pentominoes. Print and duplicate the worksheet. Between them, the students should find solutions to as many of the 22 suggested puzzles as possible. Tracing and coloring solutions makes for a nice bulletin board exhibit.

Be sure to discuss questions 2 and 5! This activity alone is not sufficient to establish the relationship between the scaling factor and the ratio of areas, but it helps. For a good introduction to that concept, see Lab 10.3: Polyomino Blowups in my book Geometry Labs.


Laser cutter file: If you have access to a laser cutter, you can make your own pentominoes. (The file was created by Eben LaPier.) The advantage of laser-cut pentominoes over the commercially available ones is that the pieces are not subdivided into squares. Thus, when you've solved a puzzle, you can see what you did. With the commercially available pentominoes, all you see is in a solved puzzle is its subdivision into squares, which is useless.
Slides for a pentomino presentation (grades K-8): PDF | Keynote
Related pages on this site:
Virtual Pentominoes
Three-Pentomino Puzzles
Pentomino Books
Polyomino Lessons
Geometric Puzzles in the Classroom
Geometry Labs

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