Phillip-Steven-Harley Challenge

Years 2 - 8

Phillip, Steven & Harley are students from Doveton Secondary College

The boys were working on the task Truth Tiles from the Mathematics Task Centre when they were diverted by a problem of their own. Truth Tiles uses number tiles from 1 - 9 and +, -, x and three = signs.

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Can we use the pieces of paper from Truth Tiles to make a 'complex equation' that works out?

What the boys mean by this is that the answer to the first equation is operated on by the next part and that answer is operated on by the next and so on until the tiles are all used. It is like pressing the keys on a calculator with the rules that:

  • You can only use +, - and x once each.
  • Equals is pressed after each operation.
  • Each digit must show once only on the screen.
One answer that satisfied them was:

Solution 1

However it didn't satisfy them for long because they hadn't used the 9 tile. Tackling that challenge led to:

Solution 2

which left out 4.

So, the challenge, the Phillip-Steven-Harley Challenge, is:

Can you make a complex equation that uses all 9 digits?


  • equations: creating/solving
  • mathematical conversation
  • operations - whole number
  • order of operations
  • problem solving
  • recording - calculator

Calculating Changes ... is a division of ... Mathematics Centre