Developing Thinking Skills: September 2019

Mr C Dodd – TGJ Staff Editor

Be Philosophical

What is love?

If everyone loved everyone would the world be a better place? What different kinds of love are there? (I don’t, for example, love peanut butter the way I love my sisters, so there must be more than one kind) Obviously. Most people from philosophers to pop stars are fans of love as a positive force in the world – it’s good to remember to tell those we love that we love them and why. Ask yourself what you mean when you say you love someone or something and how it makes you feel? Would loving your enemy, as hard as that is, make them your friend? If everyone did that, what would happen?

Credit: Bernadette Russell in The Guardian

Solve It

Word Sum

In this word-sum, each letter stands for one of the digits 0–9, and stands for the same digit each time it appears. Different letters stand for different digits. No number starts with 0.


Find all the possible solutions of the word-sum shown above. (Solution below)

Credit: Alex Bellos’s Monday Puzzle in The Guardian

University Challenge

Image result for university challenge

Beat The Buzzer

‘Together with Annie Lennox’s Diva and Madonna’s Blonde Ambition tour … (it) put female desire at the heart of mass popular entertainment.’ These words refer to Ingénue, a song cycle by which Canadian singer-songwriter? (Solution below)

A – kd lang B – Alanis Morissette C – Céline Dion

Credit: University Challenge in The Guardian

TED-Ed Riddle

Image result for ted ed airplane riddle

The Airplane Riddle

Professor Fukanō plans to circumnavigate the world in his new airplane. But the plane’s fuel tank doesn’t hold enough for the trip—in fact, it holds only enough for half the trip. But with the help of two identical support planes (which can refuel him in mid-air) piloted by his assistants Fugori and Orokana, the professor thinks he can make it in one trip. But since all three planes have the same problem of limited fuel, how can they work together to achieve the professor’s goal without anyone running out of fuel? (Solution below)

1. The professor’s plane must make a single continuous trip around the world without landing or turning around.

2. Each plane can travel exactly 1 degree of longitude in 1 minute for every kiloliter of fuel. Each can hold a maximum of 180 kiloliters of fuel.

3. Any plane can refuel any of the others in mid-air by meeting at the same point and instantly transferring any amount of fuel.

4. Fugori and Orokana’s planes can turn around instantaneously without burning fuel.

5. Only one airport is available for any of the planes to land, take off, or refuel – this airport is on the equator.

6. All three planes must survive the experiment, and none may run of fuel in mid-air.

Credit: Ted-ED Problem Solving Lessons

Oxbridge Interview Questions

What is a more pressing issue right now: terrorism or climate change?


Describe how a historian looking back at an autocratic regime would ascertain whether its citizens were happy with their quality of life.


Should ten nurses who are religious and refuse to vaccinate be forced to vaccinate children in a hospital?


Thinking Skills

A number of leading courses and institutions require students to complete pre-admission tests as part of the application process. These tests focus on the skills and aptitudes required for higher-level study.

The following sample questions come from Thinking Skills Assessment Oxford, Section 1, 2008. (Solutions below)

And finally… Geography!

Image result for world map stylish

Identify the five countries whose names when written in upper case (capitals) contain no closed letters. A closed letter is one in which all or part of the letter is entirely enclosed by the lines defining the shape of the letter e.g. A, B, D, O, etc. ‘SPAIN’ is not one of the five countries as it contains the closed letters P and A. (Solutions below)

Mr Dodd – Geography Teacher


If you enjoy solving puzzles like these, Alex Bellos sets a challenging Monday Puzzle in The Guardian every two weeks.

Solve It – The only solutions are ‘JMO’ = 150 with ‘IMO’ = 450 and ‘JMO’ = 250 with ‘IMO’ = 750.

University Challenge – kd lang

Ted-ED Riddle – Watch a short TED-Ed video on YouTube, outlining the solution: Can you solve the airplane riddle?

Thinking Skills – A, C, C


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