Math Challenge -- What Is It?


What is Math Challenge?

The Math Challenge program is a free school-wide math enrichment program for elementary students, consisting of a series of challenging and interesting math problems provided to each school.

This program, started at Norman Rockwell Elementary (Redmond, WA) in 2007 with a reach of only 60 elementary students, has expanded to over 100 schools and around 5000 students.

The purpose of this program is to engage and challenge students to solve interesting math problems, strengthening their math fundamentals, critical thinking and problem solving skills - improving their confidence along the way. Students can also involve their families to help and engage in a fun discussion to solve math problems.

How does the program work?

The program provides 15 challenges throughout the school year. These math challenges cover problem solving strategies such as drawing a picture or model, making an organized list, looking for patterns, working backwards, and guess and check.

Each challenge presents 10 to 18 problems ordered by level of difficulty, which enables students from various grades to participate in the same challenge. It’s done this way so that it is available uniformly to all students, including those who are currently solving higher-than-grade problems. The minimum number of questions to answer for qualification, however, varies by grade level.

Challenges will be released online, on, from late September / early October through May, every 2 weeks (on average). Solutions will be released, on the same website, 2 weeks after the challenge, along with the questions for the next challenge.



Q: Do the math challenges follow common core?
A: Not necessarily. Questions are rigorous to a certain extent, and some topics (ex. Logic) are not in the common core.

Q: Are the challenge questions different for each grade?
A: Each Math Challenge paper contains question sets that apply to all grades - increasing in difficulty from the first question to the last question. The minimum requirements vary for each grade level; however, each student can be challenged to do more than required.

Q: Can I help my student with the problems?
A: This is intended to get kids excited about math - if working thru problems with them, gets them excited and confident about math, GO FOR IT! This can definitely be a FAMILY project to work on and discuss these math challenges!!

Q: Why the self-grading system?
A: This is primarily to help the program scale easily as it gains popularity among students, and to reduce logistics overall. In addition, it provides a means to encourage fair behavior, by leading with trust.

Q: Can I see an example of what a Challenge might look like?
A: Here is an example of a Challenge and a Solution sheet from the 2017-2018 school year.

Feedback from teachers and parents at other schools...

The program improved the attitude of the whole school toward math; students get excited about math. This is the most mentioned comment by teachers or principals.

Math enrichment became more accessible to any student who is interested in math. Students can do the paper at home and work on problems with friends and family. Format is not strict. Younger students can do as much as they want to do (and being challenged as much as they want to be challenged).

Students are excited to do extra math because problems are different from the regular math homework. It’s FREE and the quality of problems is good.


Contact our PTA Math Challenge Chair.

Wondering how to get started? 

If you are interested in getting started with our Math Challenge Program, please check out the Math Challenge 2021-22 page. It has directions and all the challenge dates. As well as a link to sign up to get reminders for each of the challenges!