2017 Math Challenge

I’ve seen other bloggers write about the yearly math challenges and have always been intrigued!

For those who are not familiar with it, the challenge is to use each digit in the current year (2017) exactly once, along with any mathematical operation (+, -, x, /, x^n, sqrt, etc), to make all the integers from 0 to 100. You can check out The Year Game page for information, worksheets, solutions, and more.

A few examples would be:

0 | (2 + 1 + 7)*0

1 | 0*(2 + 7) + 1

10 | 2 + 0 + 1 + 7

I finally had the chance to try it out earlier this week when I was covering a  day of math classes. I didn’t go into the day thinking I was going to use it, but many students in the first period class (MPM1D) finished their assigned work quickly. Since there was still about 30 minutes left in the period,  I wanted to give them an engaging activity to keep them busy. It was the 2017 Challenge to the rescue!

After explaining the challenge and doing a couple of examples, a handful of students started immediately on finding solutions. Other students were uninterested at first, but as they saw their peers putting solutions on the board, they became more and more engaged. By the end of the period, they had found these solutions:


I had a grade 10 class next, but there was a buyout for a hockey game that period, so I didn’t get to see what they would have added.

Last period, I had a smaller-than-expected grade 11 class (MCR3U) because – let’s be honest – it’s tough to go back to school for the last period after watching a hockey game.

Again, I wasn’t intending on doing the challenge with this class, but once they saw what was on the board from the morning, they wanted to know what it was. After I explained the challenge and gave some examples again, some of them really went to town!

This year (2017) has been notorious for being very challenging, so I also introduced some new math operations for them to use (like the factorial (!) and double factorials (!!). It’s so challenging that the official rules (see link above) have been extended to include making double-digit numbers and using decimals.

I was impressed with the grade 11s though, because some of them wanted to find only the “pure” solutions! WIN! They worked pretty hard, and were interested in learning the new operations – another WIN! Here’s how much they filled up:



After I left, I realized that I gave them the incorrect definition for the !! operation, so I actually left a note for the regular teacher about it to make sure the students would use the right one if they wanted to keep going. Not sure what (!!)  is? Neither did I. Here’s a good resource. 

I got even more evidence that this is an awesome activity when I received an email from the teacher saying that the students really liked it and were telling him about it the next day! TRIPLE WIN!

I definitely recommend this challenge to anyone teaching math! Have you tried these types of challenges in your classes?

This entry was posted in games, math, numeracy, supply teaching. Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to 2017 Math Challenge

  1. Andrea says:

    That’s awesome that the classes got so into it, and that it made such a good impression on one of their teachers!

    I did a lot of these with my 2Ps last semester. I got a ton of games/puzzles/challenges from Math Equals Love. I also used some of the Waterloo problems of the week and we did the 12 Days of Math challenge from Mashup Math before Christmas Break.

    That was the first course I’d done so much of this with and it was great to see how much it increased engagement. Many of these are low floor activities so I found that even my students who were struggling with the course content still bought into them. It was a way to hand those students in particular some success and build their confidence. I will definitely be incorporating this strategy into all of my classes in the future!


    • Alyssa says:

      Yes – I love that ALL students can take part in these activities and have fun. Math Equals Love has blogged about so many awesome games like this – so great to have her as a resource!


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