Math Problem of the Week

I get to be the sponsor for my school’s chapter of Mu Alpha Theta. This is an awesome group! Unfortunately, all but three students graduated last year, and one of those transferred to the new school!😩.

To bolster our membership this year, our chapter delivered invitations at the end of school last year to students that met or were in a position to meet the Honor Society’s criteria.

Mu Alpha Theta
Mu Alpha Theta’s logo uses what is arguably one of the most widely used Theorems in the world.

On the first day of school, our student council had a #bestfirstday event: speakers, pep rallies by grade, and a club fair. At the Mu Alpha Theta table, waves of students would come up. “I got a letter.” “Can I join?” What do you do in Mu Alpha Theta?” “If I become a member do I get a cord for graduation?” (That from seniors!)

The best part of the club fair for me were the kids who came up, some shyly, and told me how much they liked math! They wanted to be a part of this group. They wanted to get better at math. They wanted to hang out with other “math kids!”

We had our first meeting in August. In the Theater. With over 60 kids. But wait, there’s more… From our wonderful incoming President (one of the two returning students!) I found out that there were about 20 more kids that wanted to be there but couldn’t attend for various reasons.

Our next meeting is in two weeks. In the Theater. I am expecting another record crowd. These kids are so cool!  They want to solve math puzzles,  set challenges, present problems, and enter contests— for math!

And that’s where the Problem of the Week comes in…

The Problem of the Week is offered through Mu Alpha Theta and is open to the whole school. The problems are posted on a special poster in the rooms of our math teachers, and distributed by our members to other students. Students can answer the problem and place their answers in the Mu Alpha Theta box in the library. On Friday, the responses are pulled out of the box. First response drawn that has the correct answer gets a certificate and a prize.

The members that enter also get their names put in a drawing for prizes at the meeting. The more weeks they enter, the more chances to win. The problems will change in difficulty each week to encourage all levels of students to enter. We also discuss some of the weekly problem solutions at the meetings –Feedback!

Here is our Problem of the Week beginning September 8: (courtesy of a discussion engendered by this DMeyer’s post, and from this idea in a comment and post by Bridget Dunbar.


This task is accessible at several levels. I’ll be curious to see the difference in methods that are employed in the solutions. Will the table be the most “useful?” Or will it be continuing the graph? Perhaps some enterprising student will figure out the algebraic representation and solve for the common pair. It really does look easy, doesn’t it?

I’ll post the results in a week!

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