Which is a better fit, a square peg in a round hole or a round peg in a square hole?

This article for pupils and teachers looks at a number that even the great mathematician, Pythagoras, found terrifying.

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?

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.

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.

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?

How many right-angled triangles are there with sides that are all integers less than 100 units?

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. . . .

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.

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. . . .

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?

Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord which is tangent to the inner circle.

A napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .

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.

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?

It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but what if they were tilted?

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?

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?

What is the same and what is different about these circle questions? What connections can you make?

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 ?.

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.

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 circle touches the lines OA, OB and AB where OA and OB are perpendicular. Show that the diameter of the circle is equal to the perimeter of the triangle

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 same radius.

Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square inscribed in an isosceles, right angle triangle?

Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six pointed star and an eight pointed star.

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 overlap?

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.

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 10x10x10 cube is made from 27 2x2 cubes with corridors between them. Find the shortest route from one corner to the opposite corner.

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?

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? ...

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?

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?

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?

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?

What remainders do you get when square numbers are divided by 4?

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?

If you continue the pattern, can you predict what each of the following areas will be? Try to explain your prediction.

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?

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. . . .

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?

The area of a regular pentagon looks about twice as a big as the pentangle star drawn within it. Is it?

Three circular medallions fit in a rectangular box. Can you find the radius of the largest one?

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. . . .

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.

Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner 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.

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?