Every day at noon a boat leaves Le Havre for New York while another
boat leaves New York for Le Havre. The ocean crossing takes seven
days. How many boats will each boat cross during their journey?
A bus route has a total duration of 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes,
two buses set out, one from each end. How many buses will one bus
meet on its way from one end to the other end?
At the time of writing the hour and minute hands of my clock are at
right angles. How long will it be before they are at right angles
I found these clocks in the Arts Centre at the University of
Warwick intriguing - do they really need four clocks and what times
would be ambiguous with only two or three of them?
This article looks at levels of geometric thinking and the types of
activities required to develop this thinking.
On a clock the three hands - the second, minute and hour hands - are on the same axis. How often in a 24 hour day will the second hand be parallel to either of the two other hands?
This task depends on groups working collaboratively, discussing and
reasoning to agree a final product.
Anne completes a circuit around a circular track in 40 seconds.
Brenda runs in the opposite direction and meets Anne every 15
seconds. How long does it take Brenda to run around the track?
This article is based on some of the ideas that emerged during the production of a book which takes visualising as its focus. We began to identify problems which helped us to take a structured view. . . .
A train leaves on time. After it has gone 8 miles (at 33mph) the driver looks at his watch and sees that the hour hand is exactly over the minute hand. When did the train leave the station?
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?
Slide the pieces to move Khun Phaen past all the guards into the position on the right from which he can escape to freedom.
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of Little Ming and Little Fung dancing?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the workmen?
This article for teachers discusses examples of problems in which
there is no obvious method but in which children can be encouraged
to think deeply about the context and extend their ability to. . . .
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the watering can and man in a boat?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of Mai Ling and Chi Wing?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outlines of the candle and sundial?
A game for 2 players. Given a board of dots in a grid pattern, players take turns drawing a line by connecting 2 adjacent dots. Your goal is to complete more squares than your opponent.
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right
hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of
Charlie and Alison have been drawing patterns on coordinate grids. Can you picture where the patterns lead?
Billy's class had a robot called Fred who could draw with chalk
held underneath him. What shapes did the pupils make Fred draw?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of this sports car?
These points all mark the vertices (corners) of ten hidden squares.
Can you find the 10 hidden squares?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of these convex shapes?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of this junk?
Here is a solitaire type environment for you to experiment with. Which targets can you reach?
Can you fit the tangram pieces into the outline of this goat and giraffe?
What happens when you turn these cogs? Investigate the differences
between turning two cogs of different sizes and two cogs which are
Which of these dice are right-handed and which are left-handed?
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
Lyndon Baker describes how the Mobius strip and Euler's law can
introduce pupils to the idea of topology.
Find a cuboid (with edges of integer values) that has a surface
area of exactly 100 square units. Is there more than one? Can you
find them all?
Here's a simple way to make a Tangram without any measuring or
This article for teachers describes how modelling number properties
involving multiplication using an array of objects not only allows
children to represent their thinking with concrete materials,. . . .
A game for 2 players. Can be played online. One player has 1 red
counter, the other has 4 blue. The red counter needs to reach the
other side, and the blue needs to trap the red.
In a right angled triangular field, three animals are tethered to posts at the midpoint of each side. Each rope is just long enough to allow the animal to reach two adjacent vertices. Only one animal. . . .
Four rods, two of length a and two of length b, are linked to form
a kite. The linkage is moveable so that the angles change. What is
the maximum area of the kite?
The diagram shows a very heavy kitchen cabinet. It cannot be lifted but it can be pivoted around a corner. The task is to move it, without sliding, in a series of turns about the corners so that it. . . .
Make a cube out of straws and have a go at this practical
The triangle ABC is equilateral. The arc AB has centre C, the arc
BC has centre A and the arc CA has centre B. Explain how and why
this shape can roll along between two parallel tracks.
Draw a pentagon with all the diagonals. This is called a pentagram.
How many diagonals are there? How many diagonals are there in a
hexagram, heptagram, ... Does any pattern occur when looking at. . . .
ABCDEFGH is a 3 by 3 by 3 cube. Point P is 1/3 along AB (that is AP
: PB = 1 : 2), point Q is 1/3 along GH and point R is 1/3 along ED.
What is the area of the triangle PQR?
Seven small rectangular pictures have one inch wide frames. The
frames are removed and the pictures are fitted together like a
jigsaw to make a rectangle of length 12 inches. Find the dimensions
of. . . .
How many different symmetrical shapes can you make by shading triangles or squares?
A magician took a suit of thirteen cards and held them in his hand
face down. Every card he revealed had the same value as the one he
had just finished spelling. How did this work?
How can the same pieces of the tangram make this bowl before and after it was chipped? Use the interactivity to try and work out what is going on!
Investigate the number of paths you can take from one vertex to
another in these 3D shapes. Is it possible to take an odd number
and an even number of paths to the same vertex?
ABCD is a regular tetrahedron and the points P, Q, R and S are the midpoints of the edges AB, BD, CD and CA. Prove that PQRS is a square.
You have been given three shapes made out of sponge: a sphere, a cylinder and a cone. Your challenge is to find out how to cut them to make different shapes for printing.