The Problem Solving and Communication Activity Series Make a Mathematical Model

Make a Mathematical Model

Organizing quantities and relationships into a mathematical model (equation, table, algorithm, etc.) is one of the most powerful, and most challenging, problem-solving tools.

We support students to build on their skills and noticers (Understand the Problem) and organizers (Guess and Check, Make a Table) to list the quantities and relationships they see in the problem, and then support them to either "build up" several relationships or "break down" a big-picture sense of the problem to develop a mathematical model.

Activities to Learn this Strategy

Facilitation Questions

  • What are the quantities in this problem?
  • How can you write the relationships between them?
  • Could you build those relationships into a model?
  • Can you think of the big picture and break it down into a complete model?

Recommended Library Problems

The Strategy Examples documents linked from these problems contain examples of what students could do with the activities. You need a Class Membership or higher to access Library problems.


Clowning Around
The Eagle and the Bear

Math Fundamentals

Toys to Go
Four Dates
Pauline the Plumber
Missing Pages


Lincoln's Top Hat
Waste Not, Want Not
Cara's Cookies
Val's Value


A Phone-y Deal?
The ABCs of Exponents
What Time Is It?
What's the Point?


The Coordinated Quadrilateral
A Circle Inscribed in an Isosceles Triangle
Seeing Stars

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