Samples of the Problems of the Week

All of our problems were originally written with a specific grade range in mind, which is indicated here. Over the years, however, many teachers have shared with us that their students have had successful problem solving experiences in their classrooms when exploring problems from many different levels.

See below for an explanation of the accompanying support materials.

Primary (K-2): The Eagle and the Bear

How many trout would the eagle have to catch to tie the bear?

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Primary Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]
Algebra (Algebra 1): Math Club Mystery

Determine how many students, teachers, and parents went on the Math Club field trip.

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Scoring Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]
Math Fundamentals (3-5): Dad's Cookies
plate of cookies

Figure out how many cookies Dad baked for the family before they ate them all!

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Scoring Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]
Geometry (HS Geometry): Broken Pottery

Come up with some ways to figure out how big a piece of pottery was, based on a sherd.

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Scoring Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]
Pre-Algebra (6-8): Ostrich Llama Count

Raul and Esteban count the heads and legs of ostriches and llamas.

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Scoring Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]
Trig & Calculus: Cooling Colas

Use Newton's Law of cooling to determine when the colas will freeze.

Problem [pdf]
Teacher Packet [pdf]
Trig/Calculus Rubric [pdf]
Scenario [pdf]

See more problems on our pages of handouts from the 2009, 2010, 2011, and 2012 NCSM/NCTM conferences.

Support Materials

Many of our problems are accompanied by the following:

  • Teacher Packets include the problem and "answer check" (the answer we provide students after they submit their solution to a problem), a range of solutions we write, our problem-specific scoring rubric, tips about how to introduce the problem to students, and ideas about how to move students forward. Many also include alignment to the Common Core State Standards and samples of student work and comments about the solutions based on a category from the scoring rubric. Over 300 of our problems currently have packets.

  • Scoring Rubrics help you think about how to score your students' solutions using our six-category scoring grid. Over 300 of our problems currently have problem-specific rubrics.

  • Scenarios provide a version of the problem set-up, without the question. This is a good way to introduce the Problems of the Week in your classroom and have students focus on the story of the problem and generate as much relevant mathematics as possible. Over 300 of our problems currently have scenarios.

Teaching with PoWs - View the teacher documents and suggestions for classroom use.

Articles that we have had published about problem solving with students, including articles that give context to using the Problems of the Week.

Ready to try it? Trial Account—try a Class Subscription for free. See the Current PoWs and up to 5 problems from the Library or Write Math; register students and monitor and mentor their submissions; apply for free mentoring if available.



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