What happens if you join every second point on this circle? How
about every third point? Try with different steps and see if you
can predict what will happen.
Let's suppose that you are going to have a magazine which has 16
pages of A5 size. Can you find some different ways to make these
pages? Investigate the pattern for each if you number the pages.
Can you continue this pattern of triangles and begin to predict how many sticks are used for each new "layer"?
Investigate what happens when you add house numbers along a street
in different ways.
While we were sorting some papers we found 3 strange sheets which
seemed to come from small books but there were page numbers at the
foot of each page. Did the pages come from the same book?
The ancient Egyptians were said to make right-angled triangles
using a rope with twelve equal sections divided by knots. What
other triangles could you make if you had a rope like this?
This problem is based on the story of the Pied Piper of Hamelin. Investigate the different numbers of people and rats there could have been if you know how many legs there are altogether!
In this section from a calendar, put a square box around the 1st,
2nd, 8th and 9th. Add all the pairs of numbers. What do you notice
about the answers?
How many different shaped boxes can you design for 36 sweets in one
layer? Can you arrange the sweets so that no sweets of the same
colour are next to each other in any direction?
Investigate the numbers that come up on a die as you roll it in the
direction of north, south, east and west, without going over the
path it's already made.
Write the numbers up to 64 in an interesting way so that the shape they make at the end is interesting, different, more exciting ... than just a square.
This challenge is to design different step arrangements, which must
go along a distance of 6 on the steps and must end up at 6 high.
In a Magic Square all the rows, columns and diagonals add to the 'Magic Constant'. How would you change the magic constant of this square?
Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square
below so that each side adds to the same total.
Complete these two jigsaws then put one on top of the other. What
happens when you add the 'touching' numbers? What happens when you
change the position of the jigsaws?
An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
This challenge asks you to investigate the total number of cards that would be sent if four children send one to all three others. How many would be sent if there were five children? Six?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
We can arrange dots in a similar way to the 5 on a dice and they
usually sit quite well into a rectangular shape. How many
altogether in this 3 by 5? What happens for other sizes?
This challenge encourages you to explore dividing a three-digit number by a single-digit number.
Can you design a new shape for the twenty-eight squares and arrange
the numbers in a logical way? What patterns do you notice?
Use the interactivity to find all the different right-angled
triangles you can make by just moving one corner of the starting
Let's say you can only use two different lengths - 2 units and 4
units. Using just these 2 lengths as the edges how many different
cuboids can you make?
I like to walk along the cracks of the paving stones, but not the
outside edge of the path itself. How many different routes can you
find for me to take?
In my local town there are three supermarkets which each has a
special deal on some products. If you bought all your shopping in
one shop, where would be the cheapest?
How many tiles do we need to tile these patios?
Take a look at these data collected by children in 1986 as part of the Domesday Project. What do they tell you? What do you think about the way they are presented?
Why does the tower look a different size in each of these pictures?
Suppose we allow ourselves to use three numbers less than 10 and
multiply them together. How many different products can you find?
How do you know you've got them all?
Explore Alex's number plumber. What questions would you like to ask? What do you think is happening to the numbers?
In this investigation, we look at Pascal's Triangle in a slightly different way - rotated and with the top line of ones taken off.
How could you put eight beanbags in the hoops so that there are
four in the blue hoop, five in the red and six in the yellow? Can
you find all the ways of doing this?
In how many ways can you stack these rods, following the rules?
Cut differently-sized square corners from a square piece of paper
to make boxes without lids. Do they all have the same volume?
Place four pebbles on the sand in the form of a square. Keep adding as few pebbles as necessary to double the area. How many extra pebbles are added each time?
In this investigation, you must try to make houses using cubes. If
the base must not spill over 4 squares and you have 7 cubes which
stand for 7 rooms, what different designs can you come up with?
Take 5 cubes of one colour and 2 of another colour. How many
different ways can you join them if the 5 must touch the table and
the 2 must not touch the table?
An activity making various patterns with 2 x 1 rectangular tiles.
What happens when you add the digits of a number then multiply the
result by 2 and you keep doing this? You could try for different
numbers and different rules.
48 is called an abundant number because it is less than the sum of
its factors (without itself). Can you find some more abundant
How many shapes can you build from three red and two green cubes? Can you use what you've found out to predict the number for four red and two green?
How many different ways can you find of fitting five hexagons
together? How will you know you have found all the ways?
Can you find ways of joining cubes together so that 28 faces are
Make new patterns from simple turning instructions. You can have a
go using pencil and paper or with a floor robot.
If the answer's 2010, what could the question be?
Using different numbers of sticks, how many different triangles are
you able to make? Can you make any rules about the numbers of
sticks that make the most triangles?
Bernard Bagnall looks at what 'problem solving' might really mean
in the context of primary classrooms.
Investigate the different shaped bracelets you could make from 18 different spherical beads. How do they compare if you use 24 beads?
What is the smallest cuboid that you can put in this box so that
you cannot fit another that's the same into it?
Can you find out how the 6-triangle shape is transformed in these
tessellations? Will the tessellations go on for ever? Why or why