Classroom Tools - Three-Bucket Problem
Thinking About Thinking: Problem-Solving Tool
While students work on a task, they can use the questions in the Problem-Solving Tool to help them remind them of strategies to persist and to examine their thinking.

Thinking About Thinking: Self-Reflection Tool
After students have finished a task, they can use the Self-Reflection Tool to consider their approach and to reflect on their process and progress.

This is another classic puzzle called the Three Bucket Problem. The Three Bucket Problem is a good example of a challenging or complex task that prompts students to engage in healthy struggle. Students might believe that when they try hard and still struggle, it is a sign that they aren’t smart. Teachers and parents can help students understand that struggle is a normal part of learning, and persisting in the face of a challenging task grows new connections in the brain, and over time, makes difficult tasks easier.

Students can use the Problem-Solving Tool and Self-Reflection Tool as they work on this problem to help them to persist and to reflect on their experience.

In this scenario, there are an 8-liter bucket filled with water and empty 3-liter and 5-liter buckets. You solve the puzzle by using the three buckets to divide the 8 liters of water into two equal parts of 4 liters. Click and drag the buckets to distribute the water and try to solve the puzzle in the fewest number of moves.

Are you monitoring your group's work? How are you doing? Are you on the right track? What should you do next? Should you try something different? What is important to remember? What should you do if you don't understand?
Good job! Time to evaluate. How many moves did you take to solve the problem? There is a way to solve the problem using fewer moves. What could you have done differently? Click the Reset button to loop back and make a new plan.
Good job! You found the minimum number of moves required to solve this puzzle. Did you get this solution on your first try or did you loop back and try different strategies?
Drag the bucket you want to pour from above the bucket you want to pour into. Continue until you have divided the 8 liters into two buckets with 4 liters in each.