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?
Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent
pair adds up to a square number?
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?
Bellringers have a special way to write down the patterns they
ring. Learn about these patterns and draw some of your own.
An investigation involving adding and subtracting sets of consecutive numbers. Lots to find out, lots to explore.
Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.
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?
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?
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?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Different combinations of the weights available allow you to make different totals. Which totals can you make?
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?
A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.
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?
How many solutions can you find to this sum? Each of the different letters stands for a different number.
An irregular tetrahedron is composed of four different triangles.
Can such a tetrahedron be constructed where the side lengths are 4,
5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 units of length?
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.
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?
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?
Countries from across the world competed in a sports tournament. Can you devise an efficient strategy to work out the order in which they finished?
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.
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.
First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.
Label this plum tree graph to make it totally magic!
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?
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?
A man has 5 coins in his pocket. Given the clues, can you work out
what the coins are?
There is a long tradition of creating mazes throughout history and across the world. This article gives details of mazes you can visit and those that you can tackle on paper.
You are given the Lowest Common Multiples of sets of digits. Find
the digits and then solve the Sudoku.
Place the 16 different combinations of cup/saucer in this 4 by 4 arrangement so that no row or column contains more than one cup or saucer of the same colour.
A Sudoku with a twist.
The clues for this Sudoku are the product of the numbers in adjacent squares.
The challenge is to find the values of the variables if you are to
solve this Sudoku.
A challenging activity focusing on finding all possible ways of stacking rods.
How have "Warmsnug" arrived at the prices shown on their windows? Which window has been given an incorrect price?
The letters of the word ABACUS have been arranged in the shape of a
triangle. How many different ways can you find to read the word
ABACUS from this triangular pattern?
Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both
sides once you've made the pieces?
Four friends must cross a bridge. How can they all cross it in just 17 minutes?
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.
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.
This Sudoku, based on differences. Using the one clue number can you find the solution?
An extra constraint means this Sudoku requires you to think in
diagonals as well as horizontal and vertical lines and boxes of
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.
You need to find the values of the stars before you can apply normal Sudoku rules.
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...
Whenever a monkey has peaches, he always keeps a fraction of them each day, gives the rest away, and then eats one. How long could he make his peaches last for?
Arrange the four number cards on the grid, according to the rules, to make a diagonal, vertical or horizontal line.
Given the products of adjacent cells, can you complete this Sudoku?
Rather than using the numbers 1-9, this sudoku uses the nine
different letters used to make the words "Advent Calendar".