Inquiry in Math: Order of Operations

Candice Shaw~ Grade 7 Math/Science

After reviewing integer addition and subtraction, and order of operations, I gave my Grade 7 students a challenge. This became a competition between many students and myself. The problem is as follows:

Given the following expression, What is the greatest solution you can create? What is the least solution you can create?

You can only manipulate sets of brackets – the order of the numbers and symbols cannot change.
You can use as many sets of brackets as you wish.

Upon beginning this problem, students were very engaged to come up with the best answer. We kept updating the solutions on the white board. For students that weren’t overly engaged, I occasionally got them to try to achieve other students’ solutions. At first, the greatest solutions were in the hundreds, then thousands, then beyond.

Our final solutions:
Greatest: 848,897.5
Least: -283,500,000

Good luck beating our solutions! Leave a comment if you do!

photo credit: Thomas ♫ via photopin cc


One thought on “Inquiry in Math: Order of Operations

  1. Candice, what a great idea to present a challenge to your students and other teachers and students to make meaning of order of operations by finding the least and greatest solutions to the problem you present. Hopefully other students and teachers will take on your challenge and become engaged in an active dialogue on order of operations through the Connect! Blog.


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