A spider is sitting in the middle of one of the smallest walls in a
room and a fly is resting beside the window. What is the shortest
distance the spider would have to crawl to catch the fly?
A ribbon runs around a box so that it makes a complete loop with two parallel pieces of ribbon on the top. How long will the ribbon be?
A cheap and simple toy with lots of mathematics. Can you interpret
the images that are produced? Can you predict the pattern that will
be produced using different wheels?
Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six
pointed star and an eight pointed star.
Discover a way to sum square numbers by building cuboids from small
cubes. Can you picture how the sequence will grow?
See if you can anticipate successive 'generations' of the two
animals shown here.
In a three-dimensional version of noughts and crosses, how many winning lines can you make?
This article outlines the underlying axioms of spherical geometry giving a simple proof that the sum of the angles of a triangle on the surface of a unit sphere is equal to pi plus the area of the. . . .
A right-angled isosceles triangle is rotated about the centre point
of a square. What can you say about the area of the part of the
square covered by the triangle as it rotates?
A 10x10x10 cube is made from 27 2x2 cubes with corridors between
them. Find the shortest route from one corner to the opposite
A bicycle passes along a path and leaves some tracks. Is it
possible to say which track was made by the front wheel and which
by the back wheel?
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?
This task depends on groups working collaboratively, discussing and
reasoning to agree a final product.
Can you make sense of the charts and diagrams that are created and used by sports competitors, trainers and statisticians?
A square of area 3 square units cannot be drawn on a 2D grid so that each of its vertices have integer coordinates, but can it be drawn on a 3D grid? Investigate squares that can be drawn.
This is a simple version of an ancient game played all over the world. It is also called Mancala. What tactics will increase your chances of winning?
Two motorboats travelling up and down a lake at constant speeds
leave opposite ends A and B at the same instant, passing each
other, for the first time 600 metres from A, and on their return,
400. . . .
Glarsynost lives on a planet whose shape is that of a perfect
regular dodecahedron. Can you describe the shortest journey she can
make to ensure that she will see every part of the planet?
Can you work out the dimensions of the three cubes?
There are 27 small cubes in a 3 x 3 x 3 cube, 54 faces being
visible at any one time. Is it possible to reorganise these cubes
so that by dipping the large cube into a pot of paint three times
you. . . .
Players take it in turns to choose a dot on the grid. The winner is the first to have four dots that can be joined to form a square.
Find the point whose sum of distances from the vertices (corners)
of a given triangle is a minimum.
A visualisation problem in which you search for vectors which sum
to zero from a jumble of arrows. Will your eyes be quicker than
A game for 2 players
Two angles ABC and PQR are floating in a box so that AB//PQ and BC//QR. Prove that the two angles are equal.
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
Watch these videos to see how Phoebe, Alice and Luke chose to draw 7 squares. How would they draw 100?
Two boats travel up and down a lake. Can you picture where they
will cross if you know how fast each boat is travelling?
How efficiently can you pack together disks?
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?
A and C are the opposite vertices of a square ABCD, and have
coordinates (a,b) and (c,d), respectively. What are the coordinates
of the vertices B and D? What is the area of the square?
Use a single sheet of A4 paper and make a cylinder having the greatest possible volume. The cylinder must be closed off by a circle at each end.
A game for 2 people. Take turns joining two dots, until your opponent is unable to move.
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
A circle rolls around the outside edge of a square so that its circumference always touches the edge of the square. Can you describe the locus of the centre of the circle?
Four rods are hinged at their ends to form a convex quadrilateral.
Investigate the different shapes that the quadrilateral can take.
Be patient this problem may be slow to load.
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
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?
What can you see? What do you notice? What questions can you ask?
A rectangular field has two posts with a ring on top of each post.
There are two quarrelsome goats and plenty of ropes which you can
tie to their collars. How can you secure them so they can't. . . .
You can move the 4 pieces of the jigsaw and fit them into both
outlines. Explain what has happened to the missing one unit of
In this problem we are faced with an apparently easy area problem,
but it has gone horribly wrong! What happened?
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the
patterns of play are similar.
Can you recreate these designs? What are the basic units? What
movement is required between each unit? Some elegant use of
procedures will help - variables not essential.
Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.
Start with a large square, join the midpoints of its sides, you'll see four right angled triangles. Remove these triangles, a second square is left. Repeat the operation. What happens?
An irregular tetrahedron has two opposite sides the same length a
and the line joining their midpoints is perpendicular to these two
edges and is of length b. What is the volume of the tetrahedron?
The reader is invited to investigate changes (or permutations) in the ringing of church bells, illustrated by braid diagrams showing the order in which the bells are rung.
Bilbo goes on an adventure, before arriving back home. Using the
information given about his journey, can you work out where Bilbo