TA Puzzleday (2/2)

puzzles and solutions

📅 may 27, 2024

Welcome to part two - to read about the puzzleday event itself, check out part one!

try the puzzles

Download the puzzle packet here. It includes four selected puzzles from the event.

Submit & check your answers here. For the event, we had a custom website - but this should work OK too.

puzzle context

Some of the puzzles are themed. If you get stuck due to missing TA context, check the hints section!


Hint for "Just a State of Mind" Once you have progress on the numbers, review the title and flavor text again.
Hint for "What Goes Around Comes Around" The intermediate answer refers to a homework assignment; its description has the info you need to get the final answer. Here's the link.
Hint for "What it All Comes Down to" "maps and sets" are not helpful for this puzzle, but other parts of that sentence are!
Hint for "Guinea Pig" Java variables should be camel-cased.

solutions & puzzle design

Solution for "Just a State of Mind" The solution is mainland. It's a three-phase puzzle - the first step is to realize the numbers are latitude/longitude coordinates. The second step is to find the associated US states (referenced in title) for each location. The third step is to arrange them east to west. Putting the abbreviations together (MA, IN, LA, ND) in that order reveals the solution.
Solution for "What Goes Around Comes Around" The solution is mary had a little lamb. It's a two-phase puzzle - the first is a ROT-13 cipher. The second phase references the homework assignment Guitar Hero which maps English letters to piano keys. When played on the piano, the long string of letters from the puzzle is the tune to Mary Had a Little Lamb.
Solution for "What it All Comes Down to" The solution is washington. The key word is "bits" in a computer science context. Bits can be 0 or 1. In this puzzle, the white boxes are 1, and the black boxes are 0. This creates binary strings like 01110111 in the first row. Computer science students are familiar with ascii, a binary code used to handle text in the English language. 01110111 refers to the letter 'w' in ascii. Looking up the remaining letters reveals 'washington'.
Solution for "Guinea Pig" The solution is reges. TAs are used to reviewing code submissions for comformance with Java style guidelines. Variables should be camel-cased, e.g. inputString instead of inputstring. In this puzzle, there are five incorrectly-cased variables. The letters that should have been capitalized are S, E, G, E, R. We then reverse these (the code itself is reversing a string) to get reges; this name is familiar to most TAs.

Thanks for reading! You can find other posts and contact info here.