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?
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?
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 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?
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?
The area of a square inscribed in a circle with a unit radius is,
satisfyingly, 2. What is the area of a regular hexagon inscribed in
a circle with a unit radius?
A floor is covered by a tessellation of equilateral triangles, each having three equal arcs inside it. What proportion of the area of the tessellation is shaded?
A dot starts at the point (1,0) and turns anticlockwise. Can you
estimate the height of the dot after it has turned through 45
degrees? Can you calculate its height?
Which is a better fit, a square peg in a round hole or a round peg
in a square hole?
Semicircles are drawn on the sides of a rectangle ABCD. A circle passing through points ABCD carves out four crescent-shaped regions. Prove that the sum of the areas of the four crescents is equal to. . . .
Pythagoras of Samos was a Greek philosopher who lived from about 580 BC to about 500 BC. Find out about the important developments he made in mathematics, astronomy, and the theory of music.
It is known that the area of the largest equilateral triangular
section of a cube is 140sq cm. What is the side length of the cube?
The distances between the centres of two adjacent faces of. . . .
Prove that a triangle with sides of length 5, 5 and 6 has the same area as a triangle with sides of length 5, 5 and 8. Find other pairs of non-congruent isosceles triangles which have equal areas.
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. . . .
How many right-angled triangles are there with sides that are all
integers less than 100 units?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Liethagoras, Pythagoras' cousin (!), was jealous of Pythagoras and came up with his own theorem. Read this article to find out why other mathematicians laughed at him.
A tennis ball is served from directly above the baseline (assume
the ball travels in a straight line). What is the minimum height
that the ball can be hit at to ensure it lands in the service area?
A square of area 40 square cms is inscribed in a semicircle. Find
the area of the square that could be inscribed in a circle of the
This article for pupils and teachers looks at a number that even the great mathematician, Pythagoras, found terrifying.
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?
If the hypotenuse (base) length is 100cm and if an extra line
splits the base into 36cm and 64cm parts, what were the side
lengths for the original right-angled triangle?
What is the same and what is different about these circle
questions? What connections can you make?
A 1 metre cube has one face on the ground and one face against a
wall. A 4 metre ladder leans against the wall and just touches the
cube. How high is the top of the ladder above the ground?
Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square inscribed in an
isosceles, right angle triangle?
Equal circles can be arranged so that each circle touches four or
six others. What percentage of the plane is covered by circles in
each packing pattern? ...
A napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of
an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .
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. . . .
Read all about Pythagoras' mathematical discoveries in this article written for students.
Explain how the thirteen pieces making up the regular hexagon shown
in the diagram can be re-assembled to form three smaller regular
hexagons congruent to each other.
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord
which is tangent to the inner circle.
A fire-fighter needs to fill a bucket of water from the river and
take it to a fire. What is the best point on the river bank for the
fire-fighter to fill the bucket ?.
The largest square which fits into a circle is ABCD and EFGH is a square with G and H on the line CD and E and F on the circumference of the circle. Show that AB = 5EF.
Similarly the largest. . . .
There are thirteen axes of rotational symmetry of a unit cube. Describe them all. What is the average length of the parts of the axes of symmetry which lie inside the cube?
Chris is enjoying a swim but needs to get back for lunch. If she can swim at 3 m/s and run at 7m/sec, how far along the bank should she land in order to get back as quickly as possible?
What remainders do you get when square numbers are divided by 4?
The ten arcs forming the edges of the "holly leaf" are all arcs of
circles of radius 1 cm. Find the length of the perimeter of the
holly leaf and the area of its surface.
If the altitude of an isosceles triangle is 8 units and the perimeter of the triangle is 32 units.... What is the area of the triangle?
Draw two circles, each of radius 1 unit, so that each circle goes
through the centre of the other one. What is the area of the
If you continue the pattern, can you predict what each of the following areas will be? Try to explain your prediction.
Three squares are drawn on the sides of a triangle ABC. Their areas
are respectively 18 000, 20 000 and 26 000 square centimetres. If
the outer vertices of the squares are joined, three more. . . .
I keep three circular medallions in a rectangular box in which they
just fit with each one touching the other two. The smallest one has
radius 4 cm and touches one side of the box, the middle sized. . . .
Two semi-circles (each of radius 1/2) touch each other, and a semi-circle of radius 1 touches both of them. Find the radius of the circle which touches all three semi-circles.
ABC and DEF are equilateral triangles of side 3 and 4 respectively. Construct an equilateral triangle whose area is the sum of the area of ABC and DEF.
A ribbon is nailed down with a small amount of slack. What is the
largest cube that can pass under the ribbon ?
Is the sum of the squares of two opposite sloping edges of a
rectangular based pyramid equal to the sum of the squares of the
other two sloping edges?
Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner circle.
The sides of a triangle are 25, 39 and 40 units of length. Find the diameter of the circumscribed circle.
Find the sides of an equilateral triangle ABC where a trapezium
BCPQ is drawn with BP=CQ=2 , PQ=1 and AP+AQ=sqrt7 . Note: there are
2 possible interpretations.