Project Euler: Math & Programming Challenges

This is a story from my programming classes. Thanks to a lucky Google hit, I found Project Euler. The site has 200+ math problems disguised as programming challenges! The cool part is that these problems are developing the kids’ analytical skills and they don’t even realize it (I’m sneaky that way!).

I asked the middle school group — 3 middle school boys in 6th and 7th grades — to create a class login so they can submit solutions and track progress.

By the way, the Project Euler challenges are very reminiscent of Thinking Mathematically by John Mason, a book used this summer in my proofs class. Thinking Mathematically is a nice, low-tech method of accomplishing similar challenges.

My middle school students solved this one pretty quickly:

If we list all the natural numbers below 10 that are multiples of 3 or 5, we get 3, 5, 6 and 9. The sum of these multiples is 23.

Find the sum of all the multiples of 3 or 5 below 1000.

With problems that involved a healthy dose of prime numbers and other higher-order math concepts, I challenged the students to choose a goal. They decided on 16 and it took just 2 weeks to reach their goal. That’s them, below, tearing off another problem from their goal tracker.

Programming Goal