Ice Roads–Steiner Trees

As an introduction to Steiner Trees, class members are challenged to find the shortest paths to connect multiple points. The teacher introduces the problem by showing how to connect three points. Groups then go outside and construct a meter square and try to find the shortest path possible to connect the four vertices. Groups that finish then must find the Steiner Tree for a rectangle. The activity is the final installment of a three-part series.

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Instructional Ideas

  • Use the activity The Muddy City before Ice Roads
Classroom Considerations

  • An outdoor-based activity
  • Requires pegs, string, and a measuring device
Pros

  • Provides more extensions for upper level classes
  • Includes possible solutions for all the configurations given
Cons

  • The problems are difficult because there are lots of possibilities to try to determine the location of the Steiner points