The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
You have been given nine weights, one of which is slightly heavier
than the rest. Can you work out which weight is heavier in just two
weighings of the balance?
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases
overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of
his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent
pair adds up to a square number?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Label this plum tree graph to make it totally magic!
Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?
Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?
You have twelve weights, one of which is different from the rest.
Using just 3 weighings, can you identify which weight is the odd
one out, and whether it is heavier or lighter than the rest?
Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems
give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical
concepts and skills. Read here for more information.
Try to solve this very difficult problem and then study our two suggested solutions. How would you use your knowledge to try to solve variants on the original problem?
Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.
Can you find six numbers to go in the Daisy from which you can make all the numbers from 1 to a number bigger than 25?
Different combinations of the weights available allow you to make different totals. Which totals can you make?
You need to find the values of the stars before you can apply normal Sudoku rules.
You are given the Lowest Common Multiples of sets of digits. Find
the digits and then solve the Sudoku.
This is a variation of sudoku which contains a set of special clue-numbers. Each set of 4 small digits stands for the numbers in the four cells of the grid adjacent to this set.
A Sudoku with a twist.
The challenge is to find the values of the variables if you are to
solve this Sudoku.
The clues for this Sudoku are the product of the numbers in adjacent squares.
My two digit number is special because adding the sum of its digits to the product of its digits gives me my original number. What could my number be?
An extra constraint means this Sudoku requires you to think in
diagonals as well as horizontal and vertical lines and boxes of
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?
Four numbers on an intersection that need to be placed in the
surrounding cells. That is all you need to know to solve this
An investigation involving adding and subtracting sets of consecutive numbers. Lots to find out, lots to explore.
Solve the equations to identify the clue numbers in this Sudoku problem.
This Sudoku combines all four arithmetic operations.
Use the interactivity to listen to the bells ringing a pattern. Now
it's your turn! Play one of the bells yourself. How do you know
when it is your turn to ring?
If you are given the mean, median and mode of five positive whole numbers, can you find the numbers?
A Sudoku that uses transformations as supporting clues.
Find all the ways of placing the numbers 1 to 9 on a W shape, with
3 numbers on each leg, so that each set of 3 numbers has the same
Play the divisibility game to create numbers in which the first two digits make a number divisible by 2, the first three digits make a number divisible by 3...
In this Sudoku, there are three coloured "islands" in the 9x9 grid. Within each "island" EVERY group of nine cells that form a 3x3 square must contain the numbers 1 through 9.
This Sudoku puzzle can be solved with the help of small clue-numbers on the border lines between pairs of neighbouring squares of the grid.
Label the joints and legs of these graph theory caterpillars so that the vertex sums are all equal.
A Sudoku with clues as ratios.
A cinema has 100 seats. Show how it is possible to sell exactly 100 tickets and take exactly £100 if the prices are £10 for adults, 50p for pensioners and 10p for children.
Find out about Magic Squares in this article written for students. Why are they magic?!
Ben passed a third of his counters to Jack, Jack passed a quarter
of his counters to Emma and Emma passed a fifth of her counters to
Ben. After this they all had the same number of counters.
The puzzle can be solved by finding the values of the unknown digits (all indicated by asterisks) in the squares of the $9\times9$ grid.
The puzzle can be solved with the help of small clue-numbers which
are either placed on the border lines between selected pairs of
neighbouring squares of the grid or placed after slash marks on. . . .
If you have only 40 metres of fencing available, what is the maximum area of land you can fence off?
Use the interactivity to play two of the bells in a pattern. How do
you know when it is your turn to ring, and how do you know which
bell to ring?
This Sudoku, based on differences. Using the one clue number can you find the solution?
Four small numbers give the clue to the contents of the four
Each clue number in this sudoku is the product of the two numbers in adjacent cells.
A Latin square of order n is an array of n symbols in which each symbol occurs exactly once in each row and exactly once in each column.