High School Challenge

Our featured puzzlehunt.

Our High School Challenge is an annual puzzlehunt designed to challenge 9th through 12th grade students’ mathematical problem solving abilities. Students should be familiar with basic algebra and geometry, but otherwise do not require any formal coursework in mathematics. These events are ran at our partner campuses across the country between September and April each school year.

Think you have what it takes? Give our High School Challenge ‘17 Teaser Puzzle your best shot! More puzzles may also be found on our Puzzles page.

About the MaPP High School Challenge

The MaPP High School Challenge is a team-based mathematical puzzle competition for high school students held at multiple college campuses across the country. Unlike traditional high school math competitions, HSC doesn’t require any knowledge beyond basic algebra and rewards players’ problem-solving ability over their previous mathematical background.

MaPP’s mathematical content is pulled from various areas unrepresented in the usual secondary curriculum, such as design theory, game theory, or topology.


MaPP shredded the multiple choice tests, and instead designed several mathematical puzzles which will give your students a taste of real mathematical problem solving, and prepare them for the types of questions asked in many job interviews.


MaPP HSC 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 – players will find themselves running around UNC Charlotte’s campus to track down clues and uncover new puzzles to solve.

Why should my school participate?

In addition to all of the above, MaPP has designed its events 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 a High School Challenge?

There are a few stages to the game:

Opening Puzzle

The game begins with a mathematical challenge which will get players running around the host campus to solve their first puzzle of the day!

Main Puzzles

Teams are given a packet of several mathematical puzzles, each of which solves to a codeword or phrase.

Bonus Puzzles

Each Main Puzzle unlocks a related Bonus Puzzle. Players should try to optimize their solutions to beat out the competition!


Players will collect pieces to the Metapuzzle throughout the game. Bring these clues together to solve the most challenging puzzle of them all!

And more?

Hey, you never know.

Who can be on a team?

Five to eight high school students (9th through 12th grade) may form a team, and 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.

Students with experience solving mathematical puzzles will have an advantage in competition, but this team-based event can be enjoyed by most students regardless of background. Our hope is that this event will convince students who don’t already love math to broaden their horizons a little.

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 problems from previous games:

What does it cost? What is the schedule?

Details related to registration fees and scheduling vary for each campus host. Visit their websites for details.

I’m interested in running High School Challenge at my campus! What should I do?

More details on the structure of the game are available in our game guide. To get connected with Mathematical Puzzle Programs, email us at communications@mappmath.org and we would love to talk with you about how to bring great programs like High School Challenge to your campus!

Past Competitions