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Solving Puzzles + Making Mysteries



Story and photographs by Patience Adegboyega ’16

I’m not alive, but I have five fingers…what am I? (A glove.)

Which tire doesn’t turn when the car turns right? (The spare tire.)

Middle school Crusaders spent three weeks at our Wheeler Summer Program solving brain teasers like these. But the puzzles and mysteries didn’t stop there. They also read Shelley Pearsall’s novel The Seventh Most Important Thing, about 13-year-old Arthur Owens, who throws a brick at James Hampton, also known as the trash man. Mr. Hampton arranges for Arthur to complete hours of community service working for him, picking up trash. Arthur’s time with Mr. Hampton reveals that things aren’t what they seem, and the story follows Arthur’s journey as he uncovers the mystery of Mr. Hampton’s true purpose.

Crusaders even got an opportunity to speak to the author in person via Skype! They asked Ms. Pearsall what inspired her to write the book and what the process of writing the book was like. After their conversation, they all wrote thank you notes to her, making sure to mention specific things they appreciated about her novel or their chat with her.

Solving puzzles is not only great exercise for brains – it also builds thinking skills that are much in demand in the real world. As Wheeler School instructors Trevor and Vanessa O’Driscoll explained to the Crusaders in the program, companies like Google are always looking for employees with great collaboration, communication, critical thinking, and creativity skills.

For their final projects, Crusaders worked together in small groups to create projects that incorporated a mystery. One group wrote a book of short mystery stories called “Cold Cases.” Another group invented a multi-level game app combining mystery with shooting baskets. Still another created an app that located nearby coffee shops and gave you a coupon if you solved a special code.

They got the message: collaborate, communicate, think critically, and be creative!

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