Observation and Discovery from Patterns

In Science, we observe Nature, notice patterns, and postulate underlying laws and mechanisms for how those patterns come to be. Several exercises and games provide microcosms in which to develop skills for elucidating the rules underlying patterns. Bongard problems were devised as tests of machine vision, but they present a stimulating challenge to humans as well. Three diagrams follow a rule, and 3 don’t. Students naturally analyze their own efforts in solving Bongard problems, and there is a natural extension to trying to decipher patterns and rules in the world around.
In “
Petals Around the Rose”, students must deduce a rule that generates a number from a roll of 5 dice. In “Eleusis”, students devise their own rules and lay cards out in progressive patterns based upon their rules. Their peers must deduce the underlying rules. In retrospect, students discuss what makes a rule easy or hard as well as whether they used strategy.