Working Systematically

Scroll down to see our complete collection of problems that require students to work systematically, or explore the two sub-collections focussing on important aspects of systematic working.
 

Noticing Patterns

The key to solving these problems is to notice patterns or properties. Encouraging students to organise their work systematically allows them to notice what might not otherwise be obvious.

Finding All Solutions

These problems challenge students to find all possible solutions. One of the best answers to "How do you know you have found them all" is to be able to say "I worked systematically!"




Two and Two

KS 2 & 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

How many solutions can you find to this sum? Each of the different letters stands for a different number.

Summing Consecutive Numbers

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem offers a simple context for students to explore, make generalisations and prove conjectures, working numerically and algebraically.

Can They Be Equal?

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

Sometimes area and perimeter of rectangles are taught separately, and are often confused. In this problem students consider the relationship between them.

Shady Symmetry

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem is a good activity for the visualisation of symmetry, and for encouraging students to work systematically.

Sticky Numbers

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

Shifting Times Tables

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem encourages students to think about the properties of numbers. It could be used as an introduction to work on linear sequences and straight line graphs.

Isosceles Triangles

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem encourages students to use coordinates, area and isosceles triangles to solve a non-standard problem. To find all possible solutions they will need to work systematically.

ACE, TWO, THREE...

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

The engaging nature of this trick means that students are often prepared to persevere on this task. It may offer a chance to nurture a sense of resilience amongst your students.

American Billions

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This is an engaging context in which to reinforce rules of divisibility and challenge students to reason mathematically and work systematically.

1 Step 2 Step

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem is inaccessible without looking at simpler cases, and thus helps students to see the value of specialising in order to generalise.

M, M and M

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem offers the students an opportunity to consolidate what they are expected to know about mean, mode and median whilst also challenging them to work systematically, and justify their reasoning

Pick's Theorem

KS 3 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem allows students to consolidate their understanding of how to calculate the area of irregular shapes, while offering an opportunity to explore and discover an interesting result.

Charlie's Delightful Machine

KS 3 & 4 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:1

This problem could be used to reinforce work on recording and describing linear sequences.

Peaches Today, Peaches Tomorrow....

KS 3 & 4 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

This problem could replace repetitive textbook work on calculating fractions of integers. It offers plenty of practice of these calculations while requiring students to come up with problem-solving strategies.

Nine Colours

KS 3 & 4 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

You have 27 small cubes, 3 each of nine colours. Use the small cubes to make a 3 by 3 by 3 cube so that each face of the bigger cube contains one of every colour.

What's Possible?

KS 4 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

As well as introducing the difference of two squares, this problem allows students to explore, conjecture and use algebra to justify their results.

A Long Time at the Till

KS 4 & 5 Challenge Level:

Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

This problem provides an introduction to advanced mathematical behaviour which might not typically be encountered until university. The content level is secondary, but the thinking is sophisticated and will benefit the mathematical development of school-aged mathematicians.