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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.

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.

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?

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?

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?

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.

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.

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.

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?

Twin Line-swapping Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

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

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.

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?

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.

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?

Coins

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A man has 5 coins in his pocket. Given the clues, can you work out what the coins are?

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.

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.

Crossing the Bridge

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Four friends must cross a bridge. How can they all cross it in just 17 minutes?

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?

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?

Teddy Town

Stage: 1, 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

There are nine teddies in Teddy Town - three red, three blue and three yellow. There are also nine houses, three of each colour. Can you put them on the map of Teddy Town according to the rules?

First Connect Three for Two

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

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.

Peaches Today, Peaches Tomorrow....

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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?

Ratio Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with clues as ratios.

Intersection Sudoku 1

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with a twist.

Seasonal Twin Sudokus

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

This pair of linked Sudokus matches letters with numbers and hides a seasonal greeting. Can you find it?

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.

More Plant Spaces

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This challenging activity involves finding different ways to distribute fifteen items among four sets, when the sets must include three, four, five and six items.

A First Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

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

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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

More Children and Plants

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.

Latin Squares

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

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.

LOGO Challenge - Sequences and Pentagrams

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Explore this how this program produces the sequences it does. What are you controlling when you change the values of the variables?

An Introduction to Magic Squares

Stage: 1, 2, 3 and 4

Find out about Magic Squares in this article written for students. Why are they magic?!

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".

Integrated Sums Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

Bochap Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

This Sudoku combines all four arithmetic operations.

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.

Another Quadruple Clue 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.

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?

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?

Rectangle Outline Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Each of the main diagonals of this sudoku must contain the numbers 1 to 9 and each rectangle width the numbers 1 to 4.

Twin Corresponding Sudoku III

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

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

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.

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.

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.