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Broad Topics > Decision Mathematics and Combinatorics > Combinations

Button-up Some More

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?

Elevenses

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?

Cuisenaire Environment

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level:

An environment which simulates working with Cuisenaire rods.

The Twelve Pointed Star Game

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Have a go at this game which involves throwing two dice and adding their totals. Where should you place your counters to be more likely to win?

Finding Fifteen

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Tim had nine cards each with a different number from 1 to 9 on it. How could he have put them into three piles so that the total in each pile was 15?

Break it Up!

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level:

In how many different ways can you break up a stick of 7 interlocking cubes? Now try with a stick of 8 cubes and a stick of 6 cubes.

Six Times Five

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

How many six digit numbers are there which DO NOT contain a 5?

Sealed Solution

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Ten cards are put into five envelopes so that there are two cards in each envelope. The sum of the numbers inside it is written on each envelope. What numbers could be inside the envelopes?

1 Step 2 Step

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?

Prison Cells

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

There are 78 prisoners in a square cell block of twelve cells. The clever prison warder arranged them so there were 25 along each wall of the prison block. How did he do it?

The Puzzling Sweet Shop

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

There were chews for 2p, mini eggs for 3p, Chocko bars for 5p and lollypops for 7p in the sweet shop. What could each of the children buy with their money?

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Lolla bought a balloon at the circus. She gave the clown six coins to pay for it. What could Lolla have paid for the balloon?

Five Coins

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Ben has five coins in his pocket. How much money might he have?

Making Cuboids

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

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?

Sweets in a Box

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

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?

Plants

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level:

Three children are going to buy some plants for their birthdays. They will plant them within circular paths. How could they do this?

More Plant Spaces

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This challenging activity involves finding different ways to distribute fifteen items among four sets, when the sets must include three, four, five and six items.

More Children and Plants

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.

Those Tea Cups

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Place the 16 different combinations of cup/saucer in this 4 by 4 arrangement so that no row or column contains more than one cup or saucer of the same colour.

More and More Buckets

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

In this challenge, buckets come in five different sizes. If you choose some buckets, can you investigate the different ways in which they can be filled?

Trominoes

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Can all but one square of an 8 by 8 Chessboard be covered by Trominoes?

Coins

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A man has 5 coins in his pocket. Given the clues, can you work out what the coins are?

Crossing the Bridge

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Four friends must cross a bridge. How can they all cross it in just 17 minutes?

Play a Merry Tune

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Explore the different tunes you can make with these five gourds. What are the similarities and differences between the two tunes you are given?

Move a Match

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

How can you arrange these 10 matches in four piles so that when you move one match from three of the piles into the fourth, you end up with the same arrangement?

Combining Cuisenaire

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Can you find all the different ways of lining up these Cuisenaire rods?

Colour Building

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Using only the red and white rods, how many different ways are there to make up the other colours of rod?

Butterfly Cards

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Four children were sharing a set of twenty-four butterfly cards. Are there any cards they all want? Are there any that none of them want?

The Money Maze

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Go through the maze, collecting and losing your money as you go. Which route gives you the highest return? And the lowest?

Sorting Symmetries

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Find out how we can describe the "symmetries" of this triangle and investigate some combinations of rotating and flipping it.

Chocoholics

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

George and Jim want to buy a chocolate bar. George needs 2p more and Jim need 50p more to buy it. How much is the chocolate bar?

Polo Square

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square below so that each side adds to the same total.

Hamilton's Puzzle

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

I start my journey in Rio de Janeiro and visit all the cities as Hamilton described, passing through Canberra before Madrid, and then returning to Rio. What route could I have taken?

The Secret World of Codes and Code Breaking

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

When you think of spies and secret agents, you probably wouldn’t think of mathematics. Some of the most famous code breakers in history have been mathematicians.

Brailler

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

The machine I use to produce Braille messages is faulty and one of the pins that makes a raised dot is not working. I typed a short message in Braille. Can you work out what it really says?

Semaphore Signals

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Semaphore is a way to signal the alphabet using two flags. You might want to send a message that contains more than just letters. How many other symbols could you send using this code?

Chocs, Mints, Jellies

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

In a bowl there are 4 Chocolates, 3 Jellies and 5 Mints. Find a way to share the sweets between the three children so they each get the kind they like. Is there more than one way to do it?

Rod Measures

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Using 3 rods of integer lengths, none longer than 10 units and not using any rod more than once, you can measure all the lengths in whole units from 1 to 10 units. How many ways can you do this?

Clocked

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Is it possible to rearrange the numbers 1,2......12 around a clock face in such a way that every two numbers in adjacent positions differ by any of 3, 4 or 5 hours?

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Three beads are threaded on a circular wire and are coloured either red or blue. Can you find all four different combinations?

Two on Five

Stage: 1 and 2 Challenge Level:

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?

Elf Suits

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

If these elves wear a different outfit every day for as many days as possible, how many days can their fun last?

Magic Triangle

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Place the digits 1 to 9 into the circles so that each side of the triangle adds to the same total.

Even Up

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Consider all of the five digit numbers which we can form using only the digits 2, 4, 6 and 8. If these numbers are arranged in ascending order, what is the 512th number?

Last Biscuit

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A game that demands a logical approach using systematic working to deduce a winning strategy

Penta Primes

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Using all ten cards from 0 to 9, rearrange them to make five prime numbers. Can you find any other ways of doing it?

Penta Post

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Here are the prices for 1st and 2nd class mail within the UK. You have an unlimited number of each of these stamps. Which stamps would you need to post a parcel weighing 825g?

Throw a 100

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Can you score 100 by throwing rings on this board? Is there more than way to do it?

Plates of Biscuits

Stage: 2 Challenge Level:

Can you rearrange the biscuits on the plates so that the three biscuits on each plate are all different and there is no plate with two biscuits the same as two biscuits on another plate?

Cross-country Race

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Eight children enter the autumn cross-country race at school. How many possible ways could they come in at first, second and third places?