Which is a better fit, a square peg in a round hole or a round peg
in a square hole?
A ladder 3m long rests against a wall with one end a short distance from its base. Between the wall and the base of a ladder is a garden storage box 1m tall and 1m high. What is the maximum distance. . . .
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 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. . . .
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?
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?
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?
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.
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.
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. . . .
How many right-angled triangles are there with sides that are all
integers less than 100 units?
This article for pupils and teachers looks at a number that even the great mathematician, Pythagoras, found terrifying.
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?
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?
Take any rectangle ABCD such that AB > BC. The point P is on AB
and Q is on CD. Show that there is exactly one position of P and Q
such that APCQ is a rhombus.
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?
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.
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
Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six
pointed star and an eight pointed star.
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square inscribed in an isosceles, right angle triangle?
Can you work out the dimensions of the three cubes?
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 napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of
an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord
which is tangent to the inner circle.
What is the same and what is different about these circle
questions? What connections can you make?
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?
The area of a regular pentagon looks about twice as a big as the pentangle star drawn within it. Is it?
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.
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 white cross is placed symmetrically in a red disc with the central square of side length sqrt 2 and the arms of the cross of length 1 unit. What is the area of the disc still showing?
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
Six circular discs are packed in different-shaped boxes so that the
discs touch their neighbours and the sides of the box. Can you put
the boxes in order according to the areas of their bases?
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?
If you continue the pattern, can you predict what each of the following areas will be? Try to explain your prediction.
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?
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? ...
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. . . .
Prove Pythagoras' Theorem using enlargements and scale factors.
Three circular medallions fit in a rectangular box. Can you find the radius of the largest one?
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.
If a ball is rolled into the corner of a room how far is its centre
from the corner?
A 10x10x10 cube is made from 27 2x2 cubes with corridors between
them. Find the shortest route from one corner to the opposite
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?
The sides of a triangle are 25, 39 and 40 units of length. Find the diameter of the circumscribed circle.
Cut off three right angled isosceles triangles to produce a
pentagon. With two lines, cut the pentagon into three parts which
can be rearranged into another square.
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.