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Trigonometry Puzzle

A couple of years ago, I created this trigonometry puzzle to keep my students busy when we unexpectedly finished our lesson with more time to spare than I had planned.

This trigonometry puzzle is really the Twisted Wires Puzzle by Cliff Pickover in disguise.

To keep my students from googling the puzzle (as they have a tendency to do…) and to give it a mathematical spin, I added the three basic trig functions and their reciprocals to the boxes.

Students were instructed to “Connect each trig function to its reciprocal. Lines may not cross or leave the box.”

Trigonometry Puzzle

My students were immediately sucked in, and they were soon trying different methods of solving it on individual dry erase boards or on pieces of scrap paper.

Trigonometry Puzzle

I do need to apologize to the first class I used this with. I accidentally drew the boxes incorrectly (I had cotangent and cosecant connected to the edge of the rectangle instead of secant.) As a result, the puzzle was impossible. Oops! Once I fixed the diagram, it worked like a charm!

Trigonometry Puzzle

Students thought it was impossible at first, but they were so proud of themselves when they managed to find the solution.

Want more puzzles? Check out my puzzles page!

Puzzle Solutions

I intentionally do not make answers to the printable math puzzles I share on my blog available online because I strive to provide learning experiences for my students that are non-google-able. I would like other teachers to be able to use these puzzles in their classrooms as well without the solutions being easily found on the Internet.

However, I do recognize that us teachers are busy people and sometimes need to quickly reference an answer key to see if a student has solved a puzzle correctly or to see if they have interpreted the instructions properly.

If you are a teacher who is using these puzzles in your classroom, please send me an email at with information about what you teach and where you teach. I will be happy to forward an answer key to you.

More Activities for Teaching Trig Functions