Swap Puzzle

Using a set of simple ‘swap puzzles’, this CS4FN activity helps students to learn, fundamentally, what an algorithm is and how they can be made more efficient. Students are encouraged to create algorithms for solving the puzzles which can be used by future players to win, with no understanding of the game, in as few moves as possible.

The activity challenges the students to create a set of instructions to solve the puzzle, then to work to improve its efficiency. In doing so they will discover that different algorithms exist to solve the same problem, but that some are better than others.

Large, playable versions of the puzzle are printed and cut-out. These are given to groups of students and a challenge set to develop an algorithm that solves the problem in a target time. They are encouraged to test and improve the algorithm. And to consider the choices and mistakes that can be made at each turn.

All the printable components of the game are provided – these should be prepared ahead of the lesson.

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