Play Pico Fermi Bagel, No Purchase Necessary!

Ah Math, a much debated topic for many parents, especially those whose children aren’t easily latching on to the “math curriculum du jour” and how it is being presented in class (a choice that is often imposed on teachers, I want to be clear that I am not trying to disparage the teachers here). Not so long ago, a fellow ETM contributor and I were lamenting the latest shift in our local math program and the discussion shifted to what we can do at home to, at very least, get our children to happily engage with numbers. I mentioned to her a few math games that I had written about for ETM such as Quixx, Secret Code 13+4, and Rat-Tat-Cat. She subsequently asked me whether I had ever heard of or played the math/ logic centric game…

Pico Fermi Bagel !

One of the best parts of this game is how little you need. You just need pen and paper, or a dry-erase board! Woo-hoo! This game will appeal to a wide swath of age groups and is quite easy to play:

How to play

The object of the game is to guess a secret 3 or 4 digit number correctly. The “code creator” secretly chooses a 3 or 4 digit number with no repeated digits. The other players attempt to guess the number and the “code-creator” responds to each guess in the following way:

  • If a digit is correct but it is in the wrong place value location, then the “code creator” will say “Pico” (as in the player is a little bit correct) and will mark “P” next to the number’s place value.
  • If a digit is correct AND it is in the correct place value location, then the “code-creator” will say “Fermi” (as in the last name of the famous Italian physicist Enrico Fermi, meaning you are thinking scientifically!) and will mark “F” next to the number’s place value.
  • If no digit is correct, then the “code-creator” will say “Bagel” (as in bagels looks like giant zeros, the other players have got nothing correct in their guess) and will mark “B” or “0” next to the number’s place value.

For example, if the secret code is 748.

Guess 1: 953   Bagel– no digits are correct.

Guess 2: 752   Fermi, Bagel, Bagel– the 7 is in the correct place, the other two digits are not.

Guess 3: 781   Fermi, Pico, Bagel– the 7 is in the correct place, the 8 is correct but in the wrong place value location and the 1 is completely incorrect.

Guess 4: 768   Fermi, Bagel, Fermi– the 7 and the 8 are in the correct positions, the 6 is incorrect.

and so on until the secret code is revealed through educated guesses.

You can also make the game more challenging for older kids and adults by only offering one response, so for each guess, the “code creator” only gives one response, and until more digits are correct, those guessing have more number probabilities to go through before landing on the correct answer.

To Win:

Be the player to give the winning guess, revealing the complete secret code.

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