MaPP Challenge

A mathematical puzzlehunt adventure.

The MaPP Challenge is an annual puzzlehunt designed to challenge 7th through 12th grade students’ mathematical problem solving abilities. These puzzles are inspired on ideas outside the usual arithmetic-to-calculus sequence, so advanced mathematical coursework isn’t necessary to enjoy the game! These events are ran at our partner campuses across the country between October and April each school year.

Think you have what it takes? Check out our Puzzles page to see the puzzles that players have solved in previous Challenges!

About the MaPP Challenge

The MaPP Challenge is a team-based mathematical puzzle competition for high school students held at multiple college campuses across the country. Unlike traditional math competitions, our puzzlehunt rewards players’ problem-solving ability over their previous mathematical background, pulling ideas from outside the usual arithmetic-to-calculus sequence.


MaPP shredded the multiple choice tests, and instead designed several mathematical puzzles which will give your students a taste of real mathematical problem solving. Rather than solving for X, players will be challenged with cracking codes and uncovering hidden messages using their critical thinking and ingenuity.


The MaPP Challenge is a team-based competition, emphasizing collaboration and communication over individual work, as teamwork is crucial for success in both industry and academia.


These challenges won’t all be solved sitting down – many locations hide clues across campus, giving players the opportunity to explore and connect with the host institution.

Why should my school participate?

In addition to all of the above, MaPP designs its programs to fit the Common Core State Standards for Mathematical Practice:

Successful players will…

  • Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.
  • Reason abstractly and quantitatively.
  • Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.
  • Model with mathematics.
  • Use appropriate tools strategically.
  • Attend to precision.
  • Look for and make use of structure.
  • Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

What will players do at the MaPP Challenge?

The event varies slightly between campuses, but here is a brief overview of what to expect:

Opening Puzzle

The game begins with a mathematical challenge which will get players moving around in search of the rest of the day’s puzzles.

Main Puzzles

Teams are posed several Main Puzzles inspired by real mathematical research, each of which solves to a hidden word or phrase.

Bonus Puzzle

The optimization-based Bonus Puzzle challenges each team to find the best possible solution they can to a mathematical conundrum.

Cryptic Puzzles

Players who uncover the mathematical ideas in the Main Puzzles are given the chance to tackle one or more Cryptic Puzzles. The methods of extracting their solutions aren’t straight-forward, so players will enjoy puzzling out the hidden meanings of these challenges.


By piecing together the clues and solutions gathered throughout the game, players may be able to crack the code of the Metapuzzle.

And more?

Hey, you never know.

Who can be on a team?

Depending on your campus, up to eight students may form a team. Of course, teams with more students will be more competitive. Most campuses allow each school to field up to two teams, each of which must have a teacher or chaperone on site.

This team-based event can be enjoyed by most students regardless of experience with mathematics or puzzle competitions. Our hope is that this event will convince students who don’t already love math to broaden their horizons a little, and gain a new appreciation for what math can be.

What kinds of puzzles are these? How should we practice?

Students will have fun regardless of their previous experience with math puzzles. However, competitive teams may want to try their hand at solving the problems made available on our Puzzles page.

What does it cost? What is the schedule?

Details related to registration fees and scheduling vary for each campus. Visit your campus’s website for details.

I’m interested in running the MaPP Challenge at my campus. What should I do?

To get involved with Mathematical Puzzle Programs, email Dr. PJ Couch and we’ll be excited to connect you with an existing campus nearby! The best way to learn about this event is to experience it for yourself, and we’d love to get you in the loop.