Tweet-Sized Tasks

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?

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

Extra merits for roping in your personal life:

Extra demerits for trolling:

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.

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.

Caitlin Browne:

How many squares are on a standard checkerboard?

Bowen Kerins:

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.

I'm Dan and this is my blog. I'm a former high school teacher, former graduate student, and current head of teaching at Desmos. More here.


  1. Jonah

    February 11, 2013 - 11:58 am

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

  2. David Wees

    February 11, 2013 - 3:11 pm

    One 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?

  3. Caitlin Browne

    February 13, 2013 - 1:48 pm

    How many squares are on a standard checkerboard?

  4. Dan Henrikson

    February 13, 2013 - 1:55 pm

    In 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

  5. Bowen Kerins

    February 13, 2013 - 2:43 pm

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

  6. Bradley Lands

    February 14, 2013 - 7:36 am


    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.

  7. Bradley Lands

    February 14, 2013 - 7:42 am

    I 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!

  8. Dan Meyer

    February 14, 2013 - 8:04 am

    Not 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?

  9. Andrew Stadel

    February 15, 2013 - 1:39 pm

    2.5 is 5/2. Are there any other numbers where the tenths digit is the numerator and the whole number is the denominator?

  10. Bowen Kerins

    February 15, 2013 - 4:09 pm

    The 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?

  11. Jim Hardy

    February 18, 2013 - 10:13 am

    Any number of positive integers sum together to make 10. What is the maximum product possible? What about other sums? Is there a pattern?