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Algebraic Thinking
Shuttle Mission Junior introduces students to the fundamentals of algebraic thinking.
The goal at each of the 24 levels is to find the weight of the Zogs.
Students are given the weight of groups of Zogs. The challenge is to find their individual weights.
Once the weights are known, students use this information to assemble a shuttle team.

Each puzzle is a visual representation of one or more algebra problems. In all but the first level, the algebra problems are related. In the example to the right, you would need to find the value of the purple Zog before you could determine the value of the green Zog.
The actual problem solving steps are also visual. Students are given three tools that may be used to solve each puzzle. These tools enable students to multiply and divide groups of Zogs, remove known Zogs from the equation, and combine groups of Zogs through addition and subtraction. Knowing which tool to use and how to apply it to the correct group of Zogs is the challenge.

Many of the puzzles can be solved in more than one way. Students can explore various problem solving approaches without consequence.
They have the option to undo their steps or reset the entire problem and begin again.
The previous configuration of Zogs will always appear above the main puzzle.

Algebraic Ideas within the Puzzles
When solving the puzzles, students will encounter foundational ideas of algebra. The balance scale reinforces the meaning of mathematical equality. Proportional reasoning is explored through the scaling tool. And the Zogs, with their unknown weights, represent variables.

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Shuttle Mission Pro - Learning Connections
Essential Skills
Mental Math - solve algebraic puzzles visually

Common Core Connections for Grades 5 and 6
Write, read, and evaluate expressions in which letters stand for numbers.
Evaluate expressions at specific values of their variables.
Use parentheses, brackets, or braces in numerical expressions and evaluate expressions.
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