Earth Day Math Contest 2018

Earth Day is Sunday, April 22. This year’s theme is to end plastic pollution. Celebrate with  your math class this year and remind students to recycle, reuse, and reduce.  The first 10 classrooms to send us their Earth Day Math Problem (with solution) will receive a packet of Earth Day pencils made from recycled newspaper for their students.

Submit your math problem by end of day Friday, April 13 to Be sure to include the name of your class, school and location. Then on Monday April 16 check out the Ascend Math blog to see all the problems that were submitted. Choose your favorites to share with students to celebrate Earth Day.

Try these links for numerous Earth Day Facts and Figures just crying out for you and your students to turn into a fun math problem.

Again, send your math problems to


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Announcing March Mathness V

Are you ready for March Madness, the annual NCAA Men’s basketball tournament? Math plays into this annual event in more ways than you might think. Some of the most popular posts of the past four years have been those celebrating March Mathness, the math behind the sport of basketball!

Check this blog regularly for more fun math problems. Send your ideas for March Mathness math problems to

Here are some favorites to kick off the 1st Round:

If there are 64 teams in the tournament and half are eliminated each round, how many rounds does it take to determine a champion?
A basketball court measures 94 feet by 50 feet. What is the perimeter of the court? What is the area?

College players use a basketball that is 9.4 inches in diameter. The hoop is 18 inches in diameter. If a ball passes exactly through the center of the net, how much space will there be between the edge of the ball and the hoop?
Last year we asked some questions about mascots. Here is another interesting fact, if you were to pick a team to win the championship based on school color, what color would you pick? Blue, more than 75% of the champions have had blue as their school color.

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Happy Pi Day 2018

Pi Day, celebrated on March 14th (3/14) around the world, is right around the corner. Start your celebration by sharing these sweet Pi Day links with your math students and friends.

A brief history of Pi:
Pi Activities:
Pi Humor:
Pi Song:
Pi Rap:
Pi Facts:

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Olympic Math Events for Your Classroom

Here are a couple of Olympic Math Events to try in your classroom.

  1. Try introducing this concept to students working to understand that each circle is 360°.Two-time Gold Medal Olympian Shaun White landed the best halfpipe run of his career at the U.S. Grand Prix of Snowmass. On the first jump he performed a 1440, on the second a 1080, on the third a 540, and a 1260 on his final jump. To the uninitiated the trick numbers may seem random but most math teachers will figure out quickly that they refer to the degree of rotation the board undergoes while airborne.

    *540 = 540° of rotation or 1 ½ times around
    * 720 = 720° of rotation or 2 times around
    * 1080 = 1080° or rotation or 3 times around
    * 1260 = 1260° or 3 ½ times around
    * 1620 = 1620° or 4 ½ times around

    Here are three challenges you may want to share. As preparation to the challenge remind students that when a snowboarder makes a half turn (180) the board is then backwards.

    CHALLENGE 1:  Shaun White will be trying for his third gold medal at the 2018 Winter Olympics. If one of his jumps is a triple how many degrees of rotation is that?

    CHALLENGE 2:  Jamie Anderson is the reigning Gold Medalist in the 2018 Women’s Winter Olympics Snowboard Slopestyle event. If she performs a 720 followed by a 540 and another 720.  What is the total number of revolutions in her jumps and is her board going backwards or forwards at the end of her run?

    CHALLENGE 3: 2014 Olympic Gold Medalist, Sage Kotsenburg, completed a run that consisted of a 270, 540, 180, 1260, 1080, 1620. What was the total number of revolutions Sage made and was his board backwards or forwards when he ended?

  1. Here is an Olympic Math Event appropriate for Grade 8 and up.If Maame Biney, the first African-American woman to be selected as a speed skater for the U.S. Olympic Team, competes in the 1,000; 1,500; and 10,000 meter events and puts in 6times as much distance practicing before the events. What total distance in kilometers will she have skated during the competition?

    Option: Break students into groups and ask them to solve the problem together. Time each group and post the times. Offer Gold, Silver and Bronze for the three fastest times.

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Celebrate Black History Month with Fun Math Problems

In honor of Black History Month we’ve provided a few fun and challenging math problems. Try these out.

1. On 25 March 1965, Martin Luther King led thousands of nonviolent demonstrators on a 5-day, 54-mile march from Selma, Alabama to the steps of the capitol in Montgomery, Alabama. According to the American College of Sports Medicine the average step length of an adult is 2.6 feet or about 31 inches. There are 5,280 feet in a mile.

Can you determine how many steps were taken by someone marching the entire distance from Selma to Montgomery Alabama?  (To estimate there are about 2000 steps in a mile)

2. A court order restricted the number of marchers to 300 when passing over a stretch of two-lane highway.  However, on the final day of the march, when the road reached four lanes the number of demonstrators swelled to  25,000.

What was the percentage of increase?

3.  An African-American and son of a former slave, Benjamin Banneker rose to fame as a brilliant scientist, scholar and mathematician.  He wrote and collected mathematical puzzles written in verse.  Here is one that can be a lot of fun to try and figure out. See how close you can come to answering the question “How many leaps did the hound have to make to catch the hare?

When fleecy skies have Cloth’d the ground
With a white mantle all around
Then with a grey hound Snowy fair
In milk white fields we Cours’d a Hare
Just in the midst of a Champaign
We set her up, away she ran,
The Hound I think was from her then
Just thirty leaps or three times ten
Oh it was pleasant for to see
How the Hare did run so timorously
But yet so very Swift that I
Did think she did not run but Fly
When the Dog was almost at her heels
She quickly turn’d, and down the fields
She ran again with full Career
And ‘gain she turn’d to the place she were
At every turn she gain’d of ground
As many yards as the greyhound
Could leap at thrice, and She did make,
Just Six, if I do not mistake
Four times She Leap’d for the Dogs three
But two of the Dogs leaps did agree
With three of hers, nor pray declare
How many leaps he took to Catch the Hare.
Just Seventy two I did Suppose,
An Answer false from thence arose,
I Doubled the Sum of Seventy two,
But still I found that would not do,
I mix’d the Numbers of them both,
Which Shew’d so plain that I’ll make Oath,
Eight hundred leaps the Dog to make,
And Sixty four, the Hare to take.

For hints on solving this complex verse problem see John F. Mahoney’s excellent discussion of this and other Banneker puzzles


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Your students will love these holiday math problems!

Happy Holidays from Ascend Math!

Here are some festive math problems to share with your class as you celebrate the holidays.

  1. Santa’s reindeers Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixon, Comet, Cupid, Donner, Blixon, and Rudolph were helping in wrapping gifts. Dasher can wrap 1,000 gifts in 3 hours. Prancer can wrap 300 gifts in 1 hour.  Prancer can wrap 500 gifts in 2 hours.  Vixon can wrap 1,200 gifts in 5 hours.  Comet can wrap 1,000 gifts in 4 hours.  Cupid can wrap 800 gifts in 4 hours.  Donner and Blixon together can wrap 3,300 gifts in 5 hours.  Blixon can wrap 1,200 gifts in 4 hours.  Rudolf can wrap 1,600 gifts in 6 hours.

    There are 30,000 gifts to wrap.  How long would it take all of these reindeers together to wrap all these gifts together?  How many gifts did each of the reindeers wrap during this period of time?

  1. Each bag of Hanukkah gelt has 8 pieces in it. Joseph collected 12 bags of Hanukkah gelt. How many pieces of gelt does he have altogether?
  1. The song ‘The Twelve Days of Christmas’ has many presents:

    A partridge in a pear tree
    Two turtle doves
    Three French hens
    Four calling birds
    Five golden rings
    Six geese a-laying
    Seven swans a-swimming
    Eight maids a-milking
    Nine drummers drumming
    Ten pipers piping
    Eleven dancers dancing
    Twelve lords a-leaping

    Throughout the entire song, including all twelve ‘verses’, which present(s) shows up most often?

  2. Lila is making baskets of fruit to decorate for Kwanzaa. She has 22 apples 19 bananas, and 7 oranges. If she puts an equal number of fruit into each of 3 baskets, how many pieces of fruit will be in each basket?
  3. After the trip on the Polar Express, it was Christmas morning. Santa left 13 presents each for Sarah, her brother, her mom, and her dad. How many gifts did Santa leave for the family?



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Excellent advice on helping students below grade level succeed in math

Math Interventionist Brian Wessel provides helpful advice on how to instruct eighth grade students with math skill gaps several grades below level.  Brian shares several of his findings including suggesting a scaffold approach in this video recorded during a special lunch session at a recent National Council of Teachers of Mathematics Regional Conference.

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Thanksgiving Math Problems

download (1)I thought you might want to share these fun Thanksgiving math problems with your class. 

Three covered baskets were brought to the Thanksgiving dinner. The first covered basket has two pumpkin pies. The second covered basket has two apple pies. The third covered basket has one pumpkin pie and one apple pie. The baskets look the same. You reach into one without looking and pull out an apple pie. What are the odds that the remaining pie in that basket is also apple?

Turkeys have more than 5000 feathers.  How many feathers on a flock of 4 turkeys?

The Pilgrims are planning a big Thanksgiving for friends and family. They are expecting 18 adults and 40 children. For dessert, they will bake apple pies and pumpkin pies.  Each apple pie will be cut into 6 pieces for adults. Each pumpkin pie will be cut into 8 pieces for the children. How many of each pie do they need to make?

Turkey is higher in protein and lower in fat than other meats.  A 3-ounce portion of turkey has 170 calories with 70 of those calories from fat.  By comparison, a 3-ounce portion of chicken has 200 calories with 100 of those calories from fat.  What percentage of the turkey’s total calories comes from fat?  What percentage of the chicken’s total calories comes from fat?

A turkey can run at speeds of up to 25 miles per hour and fly at up to 55 miles per hour. If a turkey runs at top speed for one hour and flies for another 2 hours how far will he have traveled?

Here is one of my favorite resources for fun holiday math problems, activities and more:


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Next Week is American Education Week

Next week is the 96th annual American Education Week, celebrated in our country since 1921.  Every child deserves to receive a quality education. American Education Week provides all Americans an opportunity to celebrate and support the individuals who provide quality education to all our youth. I want to thank Ascend Education’s present, past and future school partners for the great work they do to help our children and younger generations graduate high school and succeed in life.

For more information about American Education Week, visit

Here are some great ideas to help you celebrate your local educators:

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Blended Learning for Math Intervention

I was thinking this week about all the different ways we are helping students through a Blended Learning model in and out of the classroom.  Blended Learning as defined by Christensen has three imperatives.

Students learn:

  1. at least in part through online learning, with some element of student control over time, place, path, and/or pace;
  2. at least in part in a supervised brick-and-mortar location away from home;
  3. with modalities along each student’s learning path within a course or subject that are connected to provide an integrated learning experience.

What type of Blended Learning model are you using in your classroom or school?

We have built great partnerships with schools using the station rotation, lab rotation, flipped classroom, flex and sometimes even the a la carte models.  The schools most successfully implementing the a la carte model have a designated block period.

If you are interested in learning more about these models, here is a helpful link:

If you are interested in learning more about successful math intervention models, here is a helpful link:

blended learning model

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