Good Questions Needed

Recently, I began creating and developing the infrastructure for a new type of math contest called The SumThingsUp Challenge (inspired by The Flame Challenge of the Alan Alda Center for Communicating Science at the State University of New York at Stony Brook).  In this contest, mathematicians will compete to answer questions that might typically be asked by curious 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.  The novel feature of the contest is that the students themselves will be the judges.  Teachers will register their classes for participation in the judging.  Those answers, in either written form or short video format (there will be two divisions for each of the three grades) which are found by the student judges to be the best, in terms of an explanation which is not only mathematically correct, but one that resonates with the students and captures their imaginations, will be awarded cash prizes. 

Since the participating classes will be viewing their allotted entries together, the opportunities for class-wide mathematical discourse are increased.  As a side benefit, classroom teachers are exposed to alternate ways of explaining various mathematical concepts.

I am asking for the assistance of AMTE members in developing a bank of potential questions from which I will choose one for each of the three grades to use in the initial pilot contest.  Ideally the questions should be conceptual rather than procedural (e.g. "what is area?" or "why is the product of two negative numbers positive?" vs. "how do I add 1/2 and 1/3?").  Questions that pre-service teachers struggle with finding the best way to answer or finding alternate ways of answering would be especialy useful.

Send your suggestions to me at

Thanks in advance for your help.

Richard Rasiej

Founder, The SumThingsUp Challenge

Adjunct Professor, Santa Monica College

Adjunct Professor, Los Angeles City College

President & CEO, Just-In-Time-Math, LLC