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Dear Mitch,

Easter is coming up in a few weeks and I was wondering if you know any math questions that would be appropriate for a ninth/tenth grade math class that is very mixed in terms of ability. If so, I would certainly appreciate it.

Thank You,

Mrs. Styx

San Juan, Puerto Rico



Dear Mrs. Styx,

As a matter of fact...

Here, based on a well-known and frequently-tested concept that authors of standardized tests seem to deem important enough to use year after year, is a question about dyeing Easter eggs:

You are at a friend's house to help out with dyeing Easter eggs before their big celebration, and the family has 8 bowls of dye lined up on a table, with each bowl containing a different color. The mom, who is in charge of the craft, informs you that she has very specific ideas about how she wants the colors to look, and so, as a result, she has one firm rule: You may mix any TWO colors together to create your masterpiece, but you may not mix three.

QUESTION: Besides the EIGHT individual original colors, how many different combinations can you come up with by mixing various sets of two colors?

(Do not worry about light or dark versions, so, for example, red mixed with blue is the same result regardless of whether it is mostly red or mostly blue; it is the possible combinations that we are interested in counting.)


The following day you return to that family's house, and she repeats the rule about mixing only two colors together to form a new color, but this time the table is set up with TWELVE different bowls, each containing a different color.

QUESTION: How many combos of two colors can be added to the original

collection of TWELVE colors?


Once the Easter eggs are complete, you and your friend decide that seven of them are true masterpieces worthy of careful arrangement in a single line like a parade.

QUESTION: How many different ways can the seven eggs be arranged? (For example, if they were numbered from one to seven, one such arrangement might be this: 7, 6, 5, 1, 2, 4, 3; another arrangement might be this: 5, 1, 6, 7, 3, 4, 2.)

Good luck!

Hope this helps!

Happy Holiday,


P.S. Keep your eye out for more Easter math, ranging from surface area of eggs and the algebra of recipes to holiday oriented brain twisters.