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Enter the Pentomino Contest

The web site Pentomino Project was started in 1999 in Belguim. The best part about it...the site (and Project itself) is run totally by students at the secondary level. The Project has grown in many directions over the past decade, and is now accessed regularly by students (and adults) on an international basis.

The Pentomino Project's web site is broken into about eleven sections:

  • Introduction section overviews the history of polyominoes and introduces the first five types of polyominoes: monomino, domino, tromino, tetromino, and pentomino
  • The Competiton states the current challenge, which presently involves constructing a series of twelve shapes, all containing at least one axis of symmetry and meeting certain other conditions
  • Exercises presents several visual problems posed by visitors to the site
  • Les Carnards is a drawing competition (with a nice prize) using sets of pentominoes...in another section, you can both view and vote on past drawings
  • 20-Problem is a still unsolved problem, where the task is to create three congruent figures with the pentominoes by dividing the set in three sets of four pieces
  • Records is an archive of past contest problems and their winning solutions. This section is a goldmine of pentomino problems!
  • Zoo introduces the world of pentominoes by asking students to construct various animals using the set of twelve pentominoes...and it includes a full zoo of examples
  • Alphabet poses the task of constructing letters of the alphabet using the set of twelve pentominoes...with suggested examples
  • Solver is an interesting applet...you block out any four squares in an 8x8 grid...and the program tries to solve it by placing the twelve pentominoes in the remaining area (i.e. 12 pentominoes have an area of 60)
  • World & Comments includes comments and pentomino creations from site visitors throughout the world...why not have your students send in a not and get their presence registered on the web site?
  • Greg's Swing is an unusual section, involving Greg Frederickson and his construction of a pentominoes-swing consists of 20 congruent right isosceles triangles, all attached together with adhesive tape...from which (with some creative folding) you can make all of the pentominoes
You and your students might have explored the rich world of pentominoes before, but be forewarned that this web site will expand that world for you and your students. Plus, a lot of interesting mathematics (e.g. area, problem-solving, geometry, symmetry, etc.) is occurring...often without the students even realizing it!