Purdy’s Perplexing Puzzles


Caleb Griffis, Editor

Each and every month Chad Purdy, computer science teacher at Flour Bluff High School, provides students with unique and interesting puzzles to challenge and intrigue them. The puzzles differ in subject and complexity but are always an interesting way to learn new concepts.

“Ahh the puzzles are really cool, the one that I did speaking for myself, was about computer scientists, which was really cool,” said senior Jared Martin.

The puzzles are located on the chalkboard outside Purdy’s room, at the end of the 100 hall. The puzzles are also available online, through a QR code which is also found on the chalkboard.

In a typical month, the puzzles can be in a wide range of formats. They range from a random assortment of letters to a question about a specific topic.

“All I can say is that how things are formatted, gives you an idea of what pathway, or what sort of starting point you need to start on, which leads you to slowly solving the puzzle,” said junior Lorenzo Viray.

The puzzles can be solved in any number of ways. Many do not require any programming knowledge, as long as you can show how you got the answer.

“I want computer science students to see it as a challenge they can write a program to solve, but I also want students who have never written a program in their life to be able to sit down and figure it out given enough grit and perseverance,” said Purdy. “Then by sharing their answers at the end, or discussing with their classmates, seeing the power that programming brings in because they just spent pages and pages and pages figuring this out, then they see this three-line program that does the same thing and they say ‘Oh, now I kind of want to learn that thing over there.’”

Every month Purdy gives a prize to the people who successfully solve the puzzle, as well as listing their names next to the following month’s puzzle.

“Each month Mr. Purdy gives out a prize to the people who solve his puzzle, and he usually 3D prints them himself,” said senior Dillon Cool. “For instance, I got a fidget spinner, that thing spins forever!”

For the month of December, Purdy encouraged students to participate in Advent of Code, a challenge in which a new set of programming-based problems is introduced each day, with the goal of solving 25 problems by the 25th of December. The puzzles start off easy and increase in difficulty as the month progresses.

“In the past, every December I have this sort of push and pull thing where I’m like, ‘hey guys there’s this really cool thing called Advent of Code, you should do it, but also do my puzzle if you want a prize’, so instead of doing that, like I said the last four or five years I’ve done that, I said I’ll just push advent of code since it’s basically my puzzles times twenty-five,” said Purdy.

Overall, the puzzles give students an opportunity to learn about interesting and unique subjects, while learning about computer science.