It’s happened to everybody: you roll to a stop next to a car with a personalized license plate. Maybe you chuckle. Maybe you cringe. Maybe you miss the green light because you’re trying to figure out what it’s supposed to say, exactly.

In this lesson students use the Fundamental Counting Principle to determine how many messages you can create on a license plate. Let's PERMUT8 our vanity plate!

Students will

  • Use the Fundamental Counting Principle to calculate the possible number of license plate options in Virginia
  • Revise permutation calculations based on restrictions
  • Discuss the practical implications of different license plate requirements

Before you begin

Students should be comfortable with the addition, multiplication, and exponent operations. This lesson is an application of the Fundamental Counting Principle in an interesting and somewhat complicated context. Prior to this lesson, students should have developed the rationale behind the Fundamental Counting Principle through tree diagrams from simpler contexts.

Common Core Standards

Content Standards
Mathematical Practices


Virginia DMV