Task# Why Do We Need an Order of Operations?

Illustrative MathematicsVaries

The purpose of this task is to help students think about the reason for the mathematical convention known as the 'order of operations.' The task could be used in two ways: to present an apparently unresolvable mathematical situation that can lead to a classroom discussion about the need for an order of operations, or to help students who know already know the order of operations to pause and think more deeply about why they are necessary. For students to get the full benefit out of this task, they will need to hear a bit more from the teacher about the idea of mathematical conventions and why we need to have them when a mathematical statement would otherwise be ambiguous.