World's Top 10 Most Interesting Elementary/Primary School Maths Problems

Today, our MathSloth team took some time off to compile a list of what we feel are the world's Top 10 Most Interesting Elementary or Primary School Maths Problems (to date).

Some of these maths problems, on their own, have generated much Internet debates, but more importantly, they represent interesting boundaries that we may use to challenge our students' thinking in the formative elementary school stages. We will explain which area of mathematics each of these questions attempt to test.

Note that the maths problems are not ranked, they are merely listed in reverse grade order. (no answers disclosed in this post)
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   1. Elementary Year 3 Maths Test Problem from Japan (2016)


What it tests. This problem tests pattern association between '882' and (clue) its pictorial representation and deductive reasoning on the arithmetic structure of the pictorial presentation to yield the 2 numbers that can be multiplied to obtain the number '882'.


   2. Grade 3 Maths Test Problem from U.S.A New York State (2015)
What it tests. Only 33% of the third-grade students tested were able to answer this question correctly. This question assumes basic familiarity with time words (minutes, days) and tests the students' grasp of arithmetic operations and precedence.


   3. Year 2 Maths Test Problem from United Kingdom (2016)


What it tests. This problem is an practice exam question for Year 2 students. It tests the Year 2 students' ability to perform backward reasoning to solve the problem. It requires just arithmetic, not necessarily the use of algebra.


   4. 1st Grade Maths Test Problem from Hong Kong Elementary School (2012)


What it tests. This problem is set in a Year 1 Test for an elementary school in Hong Kong. This is clearly an advanced challenge for the Year 1 as it tests the students' combined cognitive, deductive and arithmetic abilities..




   5. Year 1 Maths Test Problem, United Kingdom (2017)


What it tests. Letter-to-number substitution is the easy part. This question tests the students' deductive reasoning on the arithmetic structure of the provided pattern.


  6. Primary 1 Maths Test Problem from China (2015) 
What it tests. In this question, B is the common variable between the operands and the result. This question tests the students' deductive reasoning and testing abilities.


   7. Primary 1 Maths Test Problem from Singapore (2017)
What it tests. This problem tests the students' deductive reasoning on the arithmetic structure of the cyclical pattern to uncover the missing numbers.


  8. Primary 1 Maths Test Problem from China (2017)


What it tests. This problem tests the students' deductive reasoning on the arithmetic structure (clue:shape) of the pattern to uncover the relationship of the numbers.




   9. 1st Grade Admission from Hong Kong Elementary School (2013)
What it tests. This problem is set in a Year 1 Admissions Test for an elementary school in Hong Kong. While the answer had baffled some of the most erudite adults on the Internet, it is "clear as day" once you have figured out the answer. This problem tests the students' intuitive spatial cognitive ability.


10. Preschool! - The Internet Preschool Question

What it tests
. This problem is supposedly intended for and solvable by pre-school and early elementary children. It tests the students'  observation and cognitive abilities.
Yes, that's our World's Top Ten Most Interesting Elementary/Primary School Maths Problem survey!

Do check back for our "answers" upcoming post. Meanwhile, subscribe to our blog to be notified OR start your child on our free, auto-scored MathSloth.com practices.

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