A useful visualising exercise which offers opportunities for
discussion and generalising, and which could be used for thinking
about the formulae needed for generating the results on a
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?
A 3x3x3 cube may be reduced to unit cubes in six saw cuts. If after
every cut you can rearrange the pieces before cutting straight
through, can you do it in fewer?
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 remove ten unit cubes from a 3 by 3 by 3 cube made from 27 unit cubes so that the surface area of the remaining solid is the same as the surface area of the original 3 by 3 by 3. . . .
In the game of Noughts and Crosses there are 8 distinct winning
lines. How many distinct winning lines are there in a game played
on a 3 by 3 by 3 board, with 27 cells?
Find all the ways to cut out a 'net' of six squares that can be
folded into a cube.
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
Mike and Monisha meet at the race track, which is 400m round. Just to make a point, Mike runs anticlockwise whilst Monisha runs clockwise. Where will they meet on their way around and will they ever. . . .
What is the shape of wrapping paper that you would need to completely wrap this model?
Can you mentally fit the 7 SOMA pieces together to make a cube? Can
you do it in more than one way?
You have 27 small cubes, 3 each of nine colours. Use the small cubes to make a 3 by 3 by 3 cube so that each face of the bigger cube contains one of every colour.
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. . . .
Lyndon Baker describes how the Mobius strip and Euler's law can
introduce pupils to the idea of topology.
Imagine you are suspending a cube from one vertex (corner) and
allowing it to hang freely. Now imagine you are lowering it into
water until it is exactly half submerged. What shape does the
surface. . . .
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?
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?
A half-cube is cut into two pieces by a plane through the long diagonal and at right angles to it. Can you draw a net of these pieces? Are they identical?
The image in this problem is part of a piece of equipment found in the playground of a school. How would you describe it to someone over the phone?
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?
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?
This problem is about investigating whether it is possible to start at one vertex of a platonic solid and visit every other vertex once only returning to the vertex you started 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?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
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. . . .
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
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. . . .
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. . . .
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
Blue Flibbins are so jealous of their red partners that they will
not leave them on their own with any other bue Flibbin. What is the
quickest way of getting the five pairs of Flibbins safely to. . . .
The second in a series of articles on visualising and modelling shapes in the history of astronomy.
Mathematics is the study of patterns. Studying pattern is an
opportunity to observe, hypothesise, experiment, discover and
Imagine you have six different colours of paint. You paint a cube
using a different colour for each of the six faces. How many
different cubes can be painted using the same set of six colours?
Show that among the interior angles of a convex polygon there
cannot be more than three acute angles.
In how many ways can you fit all three pieces together to make
shapes with line symmetry?
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?
Can you find a way of representing these arrangements of balls?
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.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Generate three random numbers to determine the side lengths of a triangle. What triangles can you draw?
Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?
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. . . .
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.
Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.
Can you mark 4 points on a flat surface so that there are only two
different distances between them?
This article explores ths history of theories about the shape of our planet. It is the first in a series of articles looking at the significance of geometric shapes in the history of astronomy.
A game for 2 people. Take turns joining two dots, until your opponent is unable to move.