FREGE: Fundamentals of Reasoning for the Electronic Age


The Sense or Nonsense Game



Students who are new to formal thinking often have a hard time getting straight:


·         The syntax of the new language(s) they’re using.

·         The type constraints on the new operations.  (You can OR logical propositions and you can UNION sets, but not the other way around.)


But to win the Sense or Nonsense game, you’ve got to get all of those things right. 


The essential part of every version of the game is a collection of problems (possibly suitable for printing on cards.)  See below for how to download ours.


Sense or Nonsense is a game for two, three or four players.  To play the game, you need:


·         One deck of game cards.  Each card has a logical expression on the front.  Some of the expressions are “sense”.  Some are “nonsense”.  The reverse is either green (for the sense cards) or red (for the nonsense cards).  You can use a deck of between 20 and 40 cards, depending on the number of players and how long you want to play.


·         (Optional) A pile of double-sided tokens for each player.  You can use colored poker chips or coins.  All that matters is that each player’s tokens are different and that there is a “sense” side and a “nonsense” side.


To Play the Game


·         Spread the cards on a table, face up (logical expression side up), being careful that none of the players sees the backs of any of the cards.


·         Call start.


·         Each player attempts to claim as many cards as possible.  There are two ways to do this (and maybe others we haven’t thought of):


·         Use tokens:  In this mode, players cover cards with tokens.  The goal is to mark the sense cards with the sense face of one’s token and to mark the nonsense cards with the nonsense face.


·         Make piles: In this mode, players grab cards.  Each card goes into one of two piles, one for sense, one for nonsense.


·         The game ends when all cards have been claimed.


An alternative game plan:  Players take turns.  Each player has some amount of time (maybe 15 seconds) to choose a card and mark it as above.  This way may be a bit calmer.


To Score


Each player:


·         gets one point for each sense card correctly claimed as sense or nonsense card correctly claimed as nonsense.


·         loses one point for each card claimed incorrectly.


A Classroom Alternative that Uses a Classroom Response System Like iClicker


Instructor displays a formula.  Students click sense or nonsense.


To Download our Materials:


·         To print game cards:


We have produced Word files (listed below) that use the template provided by Avery for printing on standard business card stock.  You should buy cards that are designed to be printed on both sides.  Run them through once to print the formulas.  Then a second time to print the backs (making sure to print green backs on the sense cards and red backs on the nonsense ones.


Each set contains 10 cards.  So you can make a 20 card deck by combining one sense set and one nonsense set.  Or you can use more sets to make a larger deck.


If you use different logical symbols than we do, you can easily edit the word files to match your conventions.  You can also change the problems by simply editing the formatted Word files.


·         To display problems and use a classroom response system:


Use the same files as for cards.  You can cut and paste from the cards to whatever system you like.


The Files


·         The Backs:


·         Red Backs

·         Green Backs


·         Just Boolean Logic:


·         Combination of Boolean and Predicate Logic:


·         Combination of Boolean and Predicate Logic and Set Notation:


·         Sense Deck 1   (one sheet of 10 cards)

·         Sense Deck 2   (one sheet of 10 cards)

·         Nonsense Deck 1   (one sheet of 10 cards)

·         Nonsense Deck 2   (one sheet of 10 cards)


·         Combination of Boolean and Predicate Logic, Set Notation, and Relation/Function Notation: