Or search by topic
This problem puts the pupils in a spatial problem-solving situation. The amount of necessary knowledge is very little but perseverance in achieving the "best" arrangements will challenge many pupils.
Using 32 sticks/rods/matchsticks/straws have the children gathered around for a short discussion. It is good if you can use a squared background (flooring/large sheets of fairly big squared paper). If you are presenting this to a small group of pupils then 2cm squared paper can be used together with cut straws. It would be good to be able to represent a much larger space than the
arrangement can cover so as to represent the whole of a school hall. The arrangement can be used to discuss the rules that are to be applied, particularly the "closed shape" and the sticking to the sides of squares.
Following this start the pupils may be given access to many different pieces of equipment to help, particularly squared paper for recording.
Tell me about what you're doing.
How did you decide that this is the best for ...?
Some pupils may need help with moving the "display boards" around and keeping them in the position they've chosen. Some may need help with recording their ideas.
Make a cube out of straws and have a go at this practical challenge.
Reasoning about the number of matches needed to build squares that share their sides.
How many different cuboids can you make when you use four CDs or DVDs? How about using five, then six?