## Tweet-Sized Tasks

February 11th, 2013 by Dan Meyer

Here is one of my favorite quotes on task design from one of my favorite math educators:

A good problem seems natural. A good problem reveals its constraints quickly and clearly.

Is it possible to pose a task so quickly and clearly that it would fit in a tweet?

What's the best math task you can pose in a single tweet? Mine's next.

— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) February 8, 2013

I asked and lots of you gave it a shot. Here's mine as well as a few of my favorites:

You're standing at one wall in a room. You have to touch every other wall in order and return to your first spot. What's the shortest path?

— Dan Meyer (@ddmeyer) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer @dandersod: @ddmeyer which grows faster, x^10, 1.1^x, or x!?

— Dan Anderson (@dandersod) February 8, 2013

Hold out your hands. Make your middle fingers touch, and thumbs touch. What's the largest possible area of the enclosed space? @ddmeyer

— Bob Lochel (@bobloch) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer At what exact time does the minute hand cross over the hour hand. Find all occurrences to the nearest second.

— Nico Rowinsky (@NicoRowinsky) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer How many ways can you uniquely arrange the letters and spaces in this tweet?

— Mr Pett (@mrpettmaths) February 8, 2013

.@ddmeyer 1st one that came to mind: Create a metric to define squareness, ie how close to a square a shape is.

— Avery (@woutgeo) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer how much would it cost to cover our sand/dirt catastrophe of a field with field turf vs grass?

— Pete Hanson (@hansonpt) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer you have two squares, each with area = 1. How can you cut them up to form a single square with area = 2?

— John Meerse (@jmeerse) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer Compare the chocolate to peanut butter ratio for various sizes & shapes of Reese's. What is the optimal ratio?

— Jennifer Lawler (@jenniferklawler) February 9, 2013

@ddmeyer your watch says 3:22 pm, but its set to London time, and the sun is directly overhead. Where are you?

— Mark Betnel (@markbetnel) February 9, 2013

@ddmeyer take any map. What is the best method to define fair districts? (School, voting, electrical service, ect,)

— Molly Olson (@mathdancer) February 9, 2013

Extra merits for roping in your personal life:

@ddmeyer family game night makes me want to ask my kids: How many scenarios do you think are possible in the confidential case file in clue?

— Joy Coates (@JoyCoates1) February 10, 2013

Extra demerits for trolling:

@ddmeyer Melissa & Joe r playing a game w/ complex #'s. If Melissa has a score of 5-4i & Joe has a score of 3+2i, what's their total score?

— Eric Newman (@newman_eric) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer You are folding a bandana to tie around your dog's neck. Which special right triangle should you use? #TrollSoHard

— Joe Lower (@lowerjos) February 8, 2013

I'll depart from Sallee briefly and say that it's nice, sometimes, when the constraints aren't fully revealed. I'd like the task to be clear, but in life the constraints often require clarification. When you ask yourself, "What extra information do I need here?" you're doing the work of mathematical modeling.

@ddmeyer where are you starting? The middle of the first wall? The corner of the room next to two walls? Does it matter?

— Kira Christensen (@MissCWHS) February 8, 2013

@ddmeyer: What do you mean by "in order"?

— Javier Moreno (@bluelephant) February 8, 2013

Feel free to play along in the comments, but you'll have to constrain yourself to 140 characters.

**Featured Tasks**

Two points A and B on a paper, 13″ apart. You have a pencil and a 12″ ruler. Construct the line segment AB.

How many squares are on a standard checkerboard?

Is it really possible for Steven Seagal to have “millions of hours” of weapons training?

**2013 Sep 22**. From Nat Banting on Twitter:

Give students the sums when rolling two irregular dice. Ask them to design the dice based on data.

on 11 Feb 2013 at 11:58 am1 JonahTwo points A and B on a paper, 13″ apart. You have a pencil and a 12″ ruler. Construct the line segment AB.

on 11 Feb 2013 at 1:54 pm2 Are There Any Tweetable Programming Problems? | Teaching Software Carpentry[...] Meyer’s latest post, titled “Tweet-Sized Tasks“, presents some very short descriptions of interesting math [...]

on 11 Feb 2013 at 3:11 pm3 David WeesOne of the things I find helps when designing problems is constraints on what is possible. You might actually get more interesting problems with this 140 character constraint than if you said “share your favourite problem.”

Here’s my problem:

What is the typical educator’s number of degrees of separation from working with @ddmeyer?

on 12 Feb 2013 at 10:19 pm4 cheesemonkeysfLove these.

on 13 Feb 2013 at 1:48 pm5 Caitlin BrowneHow many squares are on a standard checkerboard?

on 13 Feb 2013 at 1:55 pm6 Dan HenriksonIn a class of 8th graders I projected this version of Dan Meyer’s tweet and offered candy to the first team to find a shorter path. It turned Pythagorean theorem into a game.

rectangle room Slide

hopefully the link works

on 13 Feb 2013 at 2:43 pm7 Bowen KerinsIs it really possible for Steven Seagal to have “millions of hours” of weapons training?

on 14 Feb 2013 at 7:36 am8 Bradley LandsDan,

This is another great idea for you! I think you could create a new website similar to your 101qs, only made up of math problems, or questions to solve using 140 characters or less, rather than using images and video. You could also give perplexity ratings based on the level of interest or inquiry of responders.

As I looked at all of the questions, I noticed that some started with Act 1, whereas some started with Act 2. I would encourage to start with Act 1 first, by asking the question, then providing any additional information needed to answer the question … all in 140 characters or less.

on 14 Feb 2013 at 7:42 am9 Bradley LandsI would recommend creating a #hashtag on Twitter so that we can all continue to share our “Tweet-Sized Tasks” with each other. I would recommend #math140, #tweetmath, or #tweettask, just to name a few!

on 14 Feb 2013 at 8:04 am10 Dan MeyerNot a bad idea, Bradley. Might be something you could take up yourself. I thought about a hashtag, but holy cow, there just aren’t any characters to spare in these situations, are there?

on 15 Feb 2013 at 1:39 pm11 Andrew Stadel2.5 is 5/2. Are there any other numbers where the tenths digit is the numerator and the whole number is the denominator?

on 15 Feb 2013 at 4:09 pm12 Bowen KerinsThe probability that a number is either a multiple of A or a multiple of B (or both) is A/B. What are A and B?

on 18 Feb 2013 at 10:13 am13 Jim HardyAny number of positive integers sum together to make 10. What is the maximum product possible? What about other sums? Is there a pattern?

on 18 Feb 2013 at 10:51 am14 Marvelous #Math Mondy 02-18-13 | Joy of Education[...] Area #2: Critical Thinking Tweet-Sized Maths Tasks: Dan Meyer’s blog has a collection of twitter maths tasks. They’re good for those deep-thinking, connections-type of conversations. Because the task [...]

on 28 Apr 2013 at 11:43 pm15 Maths problems tweets | Kevin Houston[...] I’m not a big user of twitter as I prefer to read material that has more than 140 characters. Nonetheless, often something interesting appears. Dan Meyer set off an intriguing set of responses to his call for maths problems that can be posed within Twitter constraints. The results can be seen here: Tweet-sized tasks. [...]

on 08 Jun 2013 at 1:47 pm16 Week 5 Response: Dan Meyer | n+1[...] Blog post: Tweet sized tasks [...]