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?
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?
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 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. . . .
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?
How efficiently can you pack together disks?
A 10x10x10 cube is made from 27 2x2 cubes with corridors between
them. Find the shortest route from one corner to the opposite
Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six
pointed star and an eight pointed star.
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?
How many different ways can I lay 10 paving slabs, each 2 foot by 1
foot, to make a path 2 foot wide and 10 foot long from my back door
into my garden, without cutting any of the paving slabs?
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. . . .
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.
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.
See if you can anticipate successive 'generations' of the two
animals shown here.
A cube is made from smaller cubes, 5 by 5 by 5, then some of those
cubes are removed. Can you make the specified shapes, and what is
the most and least number of cubes required ?
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to
explain why this is possible.
A blue coin rolls round two yellow coins which touch. The coins are
the same size. How many revolutions does the blue coin make when it
rolls all the way round the yellow coins? Investigate for a. . . .
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?
P is a point on the circumference of a circle radius r which rolls,
without slipping, inside a circle of radius 2r. What is the locus
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?
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?
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. . . .
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
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. . . .
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. . . .
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?
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.
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. . . .
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?
Show that among the interior angles of a convex polygon there
cannot be more than three acute angles.
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?
Points P, Q, R and S each divide the sides AB, BC, CD and DA respectively in the ratio of 2 : 1. Join the points. What is the area of the parallelogram PQRS in relation to the original rectangle?
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
The whole set of tiles is used to make a square. This has a green and blue border. There are no green or blue tiles anywhere in the square except on this border. How many tiles are there in the set?
Which hexagons tessellate?
What can you see? What do you notice? What questions can you ask?
Can you make sense of the charts and diagrams that are created and used by sports competitors, trainers and statisticians?
How can you make an angle of 60 degrees by folding a sheet of paper
It is possible to dissect any square into smaller squares. What is
the minimum number of squares a 13 by 13 square can be dissected
This task depends on groups working collaboratively, discussing and
reasoning to agree a final product.
We're excited about this new program for drawing beautiful mathematical designs. Can you work out how we made our first few pictures and, even better, share your most elegant solutions with us?
Two boats travel up and down a lake. Can you picture where they
will cross if you know how fast each boat is travelling?
What happens to the perimeter of triangle ABC as the two smaller
circles change size and roll around inside the bigger circle?
Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.
This is the first article in a series which aim to provide some insight into the way spatial thinking develops in children, and draw on a range of reported research. The focus of this article is the. . . .
Find all the ways to cut out a 'net' of six squares that can be
folded into a cube.
Can you explain why it is impossible to construct this triangle?