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 math teacher and current head of teaching at Desmos. He / him. More here.


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

  2. 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. 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

  4. Dan,

    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.

  5. 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!

  6. 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?

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