Read more about the purpose of the MAP Classroom Challenges

Modeling: Making Matchsticks

Mathematical goals

This lesson unit is intended to help you assess how well students are able to:

  • Interpret a situation and represent the variables mathematically.
  • Select appropriate mathematical methods.
  • Interpret and evaluate the data generated.
  • Communicate their reasoning clearly.


This lesson is designed to enable students to develop strategies for solving real-life problems. The problem is characterized by the use of appropriate units and formulas.

  • Before the lesson, students tackle the problem individually. You assess their responses and formulate questions that will prompt them to review their work.
  • At the start of the lesson, students respond individually to the questions set, and then work in groups to combine their thinking and produce a collaborative solution in the form of a poster.
  • In the same small groups, students evaluate and comment on some sample responses. They identify the strengths and mistakes in these responses and compare them with their own work.
  • In a whole-class discussion, students explain and compare the solution strategies they have seen and used.
  • Finally, students reflect on their work and their learning.

Materials required

Each student will need a calculator, a copy of Making Matchsticks, a copy Formula Sheet, a blank sheet of paper, and a copy of the questionnaire How Did You Work?

Each small group of students will need a large sheet of paper for making a poster, felt tipped pens, and copies of Sample Responses to Discuss.

There are some projector resources to help you with whole-class discussions.

Time needed

15 minutes before the lesson, a 90-minute lesson and 15 minutes for follow-up lesson or for homework. Timings given are only approximate. Exact timings will depend on the needs of the class. 

Mathematical Practices

This lesson involves a range of mathematical practices from the standards, with emphasis on:

Mathematical Content

This lesson asks students to select and apply mathematical content from across the grades, including the content standards:


Lesson (complete)

Projector Resources

A draft Brief Guide for teachers and administrators (PDF) is now available, and is recommended for anybody using the MAP Classroom Challenges for the first time.

We have assigned lessons to grades based on the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Content. During this transition period, you should use your judgement as to where they fit in your current course.

The Beta versions of the MAP Lesson Units may be distributed, unmodified, under the Creative Commons Attribution, Non-commercial, No Derivatives License 3.0. All other rights reserved. Please send any enquiries about commercial use or derived works to

Can you help us by sending samples of students' work on the Classroom Challenges?