Manufacturers need to minimise the amount of material used to make
their product. What is the best cross-section for a gutter?
The area of a square inscribed in a circle with a unit radius is, satisfyingly, 2. What is the area of a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle with a unit radius?
A napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of
an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .
Each of the following shapes is made from arcs of a circle of radius r. What is the perimeter of a shape with 3, 4, 5 and n "nodes".
Two ladders are propped up against facing walls. The end of the
first ladder is 10 metres above the foot of the first wall. The end
of the second ladder is 5 metres above the foot of the second. . . .
An observer is on top of a lighthouse. How far from the foot of the lighthouse is the horizon that the observer can see?
Can you find rectangles where the value of the area is the same as the value of the perimeter?
A decorator can buy pink paint from two manufacturers. What is the
least number he would need of each type in order to produce
different shades of pink.
Is it always possible to combine two paints made up in the ratios
1:x and 1:y and turn them into paint made up in the ratio a:b ? Can
you find an efficent way of doing this?
A circle of radius r touches two sides of a right angled triangle,
sides x and y, and has its centre on the hypotenuse. Can you prove
the formula linking x, y and r?
Here's a chance to work with large numbers...
What angle is needed for a ball to do a circuit of the billiard
table and then pass through its original position?
Chris is enjoying a swim but needs to get back for lunch. If she can swim at 3 m/s and run at 7m/sec, how far along the bank should she land in order to get back as quickly as possible?
Your school has been left a million pounds in the will of an ex-
pupil. What model of investment and spending would you use in order
to ensure the best return on the money?
A square of area 40 square cms is inscribed in a semicircle. Find
the area of the square that could be inscribed in a circle of the
Can you find the area of a parallelogram defined by two vectors?
Water freezes at 0°Celsius (32°Fahrenheit) and boils at 100°C (212°Fahrenheit). Is there a temperature at which Celsius and Fahrenheit readings are the same?
What is the same and what is different about these circle
questions? What connections can you make?
Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square inscribed in an isosceles, right angle triangle?
If the hypotenuse (base) length is 100cm and if an extra line
splits the base into 36cm and 64cm parts, what were the side
lengths for the original right-angled triangle?
If you move the tiles around, can you make squares with different coloured edges?
The diagonals of a trapezium divide it into four parts. Can you
create a trapezium where three of those parts are equal in area?
A 1 metre cube has one face on the ground and one face against a
wall. A 4 metre ladder leans against the wall and just touches the
cube. How high is the top of the ladder above the ground?
Explore the effect of combining enlargements.
If you have only 40 metres of fencing available, what is the maximum area of land you can fence off?
Have a go at creating these images based on circles. What do you notice about the areas of the different sections?
A plastic funnel is used to pour liquids through narrow apertures.
What shape funnel would use the least amount of plastic to
manufacture for any specific volume ?
This shape comprises four semi-circles. What is the relationship
between the area of the shaded region and the area of the circle on
AB as diameter?
What is the area of the quadrilateral APOQ? Working on the building
blocks will give you some insights that may help you to work it
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
An aluminium can contains 330 ml of cola. If the can's diameter is 6 cm what is the can's height?
What is the greatest volume you can get for a rectangular (cuboid)
parcel if the maximum combined length and girth are 2 metres?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
How many winning lines can you make in a three-dimensional version of noughts and crosses?
Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow paint on their faces?
Which of these games would you play to give yourself the best possible chance of winning a prize?
A 2 by 3 rectangle contains 8 squares and a 3 by 4 rectangle
contains 20 squares. What size rectangle(s) contain(s) exactly 100
squares? Can you find them all?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
Investigate how you can work out what day of the week your birthday will be on next year, and the year after...
Chris and Jo put two red and four blue ribbons in a box. They each pick a ribbon from the box without looking. Jo wins if the two ribbons are the same colour. Is the game fair?
Show that is it impossible to have a tetrahedron whose six edges
have lengths 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 units...
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
Some people offer advice on how to win at games of chance, or how to influence probability in your favour. Can you decide whether advice is good or not?
Explore when it is possible to construct a circle which just
touches all four sides of a quadrilateral.
Imagine you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights. How many of each weight would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg? What other averages could you have?
Substitute -1, -2 or -3, into an algebraic expression and you'll
get three results. Is it possible to tell in advance which of those
three will be the largest ?
How many different symmetrical shapes can you make by shading triangles or squares?
A hexagon, with sides alternately a and b units in length, is inscribed in a circle. How big is the radius of the circle?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two parallel mirror lines.