Contribute a Puzzle

Support MaPP programs and events.

Do you have a puzzle design that will get middle or high school students engaged with a mathematical idea? We welcome contributions from anyone who wants to support our mission of getting kids having fun doing mathematics!

Generally, mathematicians are encouraged to contribute Main Puzzles, while general audience puzzle designers will find our Cryptic Puzzles to be more similar to the genre they are used to. Specifications for each are outlined below.

Main Puzzles

  • The puzzle should have a direct link to mathematics outside the usual arithmetic-to-calculus sequence. Your puzzle should introduce a totally new mathematical idea to a large majority of high school students. Your source material might be a topic usually first introduced to upperclassman math majors (e.g. number theory, topology) or inspired by a mathematical topic in industry.
  • However, the text of your puzzle need not reference the mathematics explicitly. In fact, it’s often preferable to structure your puzzle so players will implicitly discover mathematical ideas for themselves when solving, without being overloaded with lots of technical jargon and definitions.
  • The solution to the puzzle should be an extractable secret message. In the MaPP Challenge, puzzles are solved when this message is reported to Game Control. In addition to providing a mechanic for marking puzzles as solved during competition, the hidden meaning of the puzzle also provides extra motivation to solve. This might be achieved by using a simple alphanumeric code where A=1, B=2, etc., or perhaps using a code like Braille or Morse. More advanced extractions might be better appropriate for a Cryptic Puzzle (see below).
  • You should be able to provide a short writeup of the mathematics involved. It should be long enough to motivate the puzzle’s mathematical connection and provide references for teachers/students who wish to connect the puzzle and its solution to the mathematics, but no longer than two pages.

Cryptic Puzzles

  • For those familiar with such events, our Cryptic Puzzles are close to the style and difficulty found in Puzzled Pint or DASH (Different Area Same Hunt) events.
  • The puzzle must solve to an extractable secret message.
  • These puzzles must be solvable with negligible outside knowledge. For example, crosswords are not acceptable since they require trivia or wordplay knowledge, but a Sudoku variant would be fine. Word-based puzzles such as Places Please or a criss-cross where all the words are provided do not contradict this rule.
  • The puzzle must not be a simple construction of a known puzzle type. For example, a criss-cross from a list of mathy words probably isn’t acceptable, but could be made acceptable if an extra step was required (such as converting letters to Braille).

Get in touch

If you’re interested, email a brief abstract to Dr. Steven Clontz to get started! Examples of puzzles we’ve used in previous events may be found on our Puzzles page.

All puzzles used by MaPP in its programs will be eventually open-sourced under a permissive license, so we ask that all contributions be compatibly licensed before we can use them in our programs. (Basically, you need to tell us we have permission to reuse your contribution in our events, and that teachers will have permission to use them in their schools.) Our goal is to share the joy of mathematical problem-solving with as many people as possible, so we appreciate your support!