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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Working systematically

Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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.

More on Mazes

Stage: 2 and 3

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.

9 Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

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?

Magic Caterpillars

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Label the joints and legs of these graph theory caterpillars so that the vertex sums are all equal.

Introducing NRICH TWILGO

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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?

Crossing the Town Square

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.

Medal Muddle

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

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?

Twin Line-swapping Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

A pair of Sudoku puzzles that together lead to a complete solution.

One Out One Under

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

Imagine a stack of numbered cards with one on top. Discard the top, put the next card to the bottom and repeat continuously. Can you predict the last card?

Difference Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Use the differences to find the solution to this Sudoku.

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Four small numbers give the clue to the contents of the four surrounding cells.

Spot the Card

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

It is possible to identify a particular card out of a pack of 15 with the use of some mathematical reasoning. What is this reasoning and can it be applied to other numbers of cards?

Gr8 Coach

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Can you coach your rowing eight to win?

Pole Star Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

This Sudoku, based on differences. Using the one clue number can you find the solution?

Olympic Logic

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Can you use your powers of logic and deduction to work out the missing information in these sporty situations?

LOGO Challenge - Triangles-squares-stars

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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.

Counting on Letters

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

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?

The Naked Pair in Sudoku

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

A particular technique for solving Sudoku puzzles, known as "naked pair", is explained in this easy-to-read article.

Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St Clement's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Bellringers have a special way to write down the patterns they ring. Learn about these patterns and draw some of your own.

Wallpaper Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku that uses transformations as supporting clues.

Ratio Sudoku 1

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with clues as ratios.

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

You need to find the values of the stars before you can apply normal Sudoku rules.

Product Sudoku

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

The clues for this Sudoku are the product of the numbers in adjacent squares.

Rainstorm Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

Use the clues about the shaded areas to help solve this sudoku

Bent Out of Shape

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

An introduction to bond angle geometry.

Sticky Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Rather than using the numbers 1-9, this sudoku uses the nine different letters used to make the words "Advent Calendar".

Tea Cups

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

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.

Cinema Problem

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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.

Difference Dynamics

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Take three whole numbers. The differences between them give you three new numbers. Find the differences between the new numbers and keep repeating this. What happens?

Integrated Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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.

A First Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Given the products of adjacent cells, can you complete this Sudoku?

Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Different combinations of the weights available allow you to make different totals. Which totals can you make?

You Owe Me Five Farthings, Say the Bells of St Martin's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

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?

Intersection Sudoku 1

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with a twist.

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Four numbers on an intersection that need to be placed in the surrounding cells. That is all you need to know to solve this sudoku.

Consecutive Negative Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?

Twin Corresponding Sudokus II

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Two sudokus in one. Challenge yourself to make the necessary connections.

Masterclass Ideas: Working Systematically

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

A package contains a set of resources designed to develop students’ mathematical thinking. This package places a particular emphasis on “being systematic” and is designed to meet. . . .

Colour Islands Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

An extra constraint means this Sudoku requires you to think in diagonals as well as horizontal and vertical lines and boxes of nine.

Multiplication Equation Sudoku

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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.

Making Maths: Double-sided Magic Square

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both sides once you've made the pieces?

LCM Sudoku II

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

You are given the Lowest Common Multiples of sets of digits. Find the digits and then solve the Sudoku.

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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.

Colour Islands Sudoku 2

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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.

Product Doubles Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Each clue number in this sudoku is the product of the two numbers in adjacent cells.

Ratio Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with clues as ratios.

Product Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Given the products of diagonally opposite cells - can you complete this Sudoku?

Magnetic Personality

Stage: 2, 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

60 pieces and a challenge. What can you make and how many of the pieces can you use creating skeleton polyhedra?

LOGO Challenge - the Logic of LOGO

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Just four procedures were used to produce a design. How was it done? Can you be systematic and elegant so that someone can follow your logic?