Last semester, I wrote an article about the origins of the Lovett Trail, Dr. Douglas’s online puzzle extravaganza. Now that the contest is almost over, I thought I’d give you an update.
Dr. Douglas said that he thinks the Lovett Trial went really well, however, he thinks that there were certain aspects that were more accessible than others. He really liked it when we did a competition between advisories because everyone got really into it.
He does have some ideas for modification. “In the future,” he said, “I would shift more towards group projects” instead of mainly individuals working on it.
Dr. Douglas has also learned other things from this experience. He learned how to use google sites, which is what he used to set up the rooms. Additionally, he has learned how to navigate Excel, which he uses to run the leaderboard.
As for the participation level? Dr. Douglas had two different perspectives on it. He thought there would be more students engaging individually, but he was pleasantly surprised with the number of people who participated when it became an advisory competition. “So, it probably evens out,” he said.
According to Dr. Douglas, one of the students who did participate a lot was sophomore Madeleine Morris. I spoke to Madeleine and she said that they were pretty difficult. “I had to research them sometimes,” she said, “but they weren’t crazy hard.”
She said that the hardest activities to complete are the main problems, especially numbers five through nine.
Sophomore Aashna Lal, who currently holds the first place rank, said that the activities are “surprisingly difficult.” One of the activities took Aashna an entire week to complete. “They were easy in the beginning, but they got harder very quickly.”
Dr. Douglas also noticed that some of the harder activities took longer to solve and were more difficult for the students.
For Madeleine, the easiest activities have been the math and science ones. “A lot of the mini problems about math and science I knew.”
“One question was about binary numbers and I figured it out really fast because I learned Base 10 last year in school,” Madeleine said. She was able to go to a binary calculator to figure that certain activity out, but beyond that “you couldn’t google search because the [other ones] were more difficult.”
Aashna said that there were a few, especially towards the beginning of the competition, that were googleable. “It would say it on the page,” she said. “There were keywords in the middle that would give you hints on what to search for.”
Dr. Douglas said that for him, the difficulty level was hard to gauge. From his perspective, he thought that it was on the easier side and it could stand to be more difficult. He said that to get a better understanding, he’d have to talk to people who have been through it.
In general, Dr. Douglas has received mostly positive feedback on the Lovett Trail. “I think that the number one feedback I received was [getting rid] of some of the barriers to enter” the competition. For example, the QR codes that were located around the school were harder to access.
As of right now, all of the activities and puzzles have been released, and the competition ends at the end of this month. “The way that the scores are right now, among the top 25-50 participants,” anyone could get in the top 5 and win a prize because the final puzzles are worth more points than the earlier puzzles.
Madeleine has been enjoying working on the Lovett Trail when she is bored, and she thinks that it is “fun to think about what the answer might be and figure out how to do it.”
Madeleine is currently in 3rd place. “As long as you do the problems, it's not that hard,” she said. “I didn’t do it for the first couple weeks, but then I caught up pretty quickly because the point loss wasn't bad for doing it late. So, as long as you solve the question, you’re good.”
She doesn’t find herself pressured to complete the activities because they aren’t on a time restraint, so she can just come back to them later. “It never really got in the way because they never actually took me too long.”
Aashna’s experience of this was a bit different. She said that it took her an average of 30-45 minutes per puzzle to complete.
The Lovett Trail seems like an enjoyable activity to do with friends, as well as to do with herself. Madeleine worked on the Lovett Trail with some of her friends at the beginning of lunch once, but other than that, she works on it alone.
She likes solving puzzles because she likes having to think and figure something out, and it's really rewarding when you figure out something hard, knowing, ‘I did that.’”
Aashna enjoys puzzles, but she originally started because her 7th-grade brother was really interested in the Xbox prize. Aashna originally started playing to get that for him; however, he ended up getting one for this past Christmas, so Aashna now will probably decide between the other prizes.
When I asked Aashna what her favorite part of the Lovett Trail was, she said she liked “how each one requires a different set of skills and are very different from each other.”
Madeleine’s response was a little different: “I’m going to be completely honest [with you],” she said, “my favorite part is probably the prizes.”