An article for teachers which discusses the differences between
ratio and proportion, and invites readers to contribute their own
A farmer is supplying a mix of seeds, nuts and dried apricots to a
manufacturer of crunchy cereal bars. What combination of
ingredients costing £5 per kg could he supply?
A decorator can buy pink paint from two manufacturers. What is the
least number he would need of each type in order to produce
different shades of pink.
Is it always possible to combine two paints made up in the ratios
1:x and 1:y and turn them into paint made up in the ratio a:b ? Can
you find an efficent way of doing this?
In a race the odds are: 2 to 1 against the rhinoceros winning and 3 to 2 against the hippopotamus winning. What are the odds against the elephant winning if the race is fair?
If the sides of the triangle in the diagram are 3, 4 and 5, what is
the area of the shaded square?
A garrison of 600 men has just enough bread ... but, with the news
that the enemy was planning an attack... How many ounces of bread a
day must each man in the garrison be allowed, to hold out 45. . . .
Two motorboats travelling up and down a lake at constant speeds
leave opposite ends A and B at the same instant, passing each
other, for the first time 600 metres from A, and on their return,
400. . . .
The diagonals of a trapezium divide it into four parts. Can you
create a trapezium where three of those parts are equal in area?
A circle of radius r touches two sides of a right angled triangle,
sides x and y, and has its centre on the hypotenuse. Can you prove
the formula linking x, y and r?
At the beginning of the night three poker players; Alan, Bernie and Craig had money in the ratios 7 : 6 : 5. At the end of the night the ratio was 6 : 5 : 4. One of them won $1 200. What were the. . . .
Read all about the number pi and the mathematicians who have tried to find out its value as accurately as possible.
Straight lines are drawn from each corner of a square to the mid
points of the opposite sides. Express the area of the octagon that
is formed at the centre as a fraction of the area of the square.
A Sudoku with clues as ratios or fractions.
We use statistics to give ourselves an informed view on a subject of interest. This problem explores how to scale countries on a map to represent characteristics other than land area.
Two buses leave at the same time from two towns Shipton and Veston on the same long road, travelling towards each other. At each mile along the road are milestones. The buses' speeds are constant. . . .
A cyclist and a runner start off simultaneously around a race track each going at a constant speed. The cyclist goes all the way around and then catches up with the runner. He then instantly turns. . . .
Mike and Monisha meet at the race track, which is 400m round. Just to make a point, Mike runs anticlockwise whilst Monisha runs clockwise. Where will they meet on their way around and will they ever. . . .
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?
Points P, Q, R and S each divide the sides AB, BC, CD and DA respectively in the ratio of 2 : 1. Join the points. What is the area of the parallelogram PQRS in relation to the original rectangle?
Can you work out which drink has the stronger flavour?
What angle is needed for a ball to do a circuit of the billiard
table and then pass through its original position?
Two boats travel up and down a lake. Can you picture where they
will cross if you know how fast each boat is travelling?
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. . . .
Which exact dilution ratios can you make using only 2 dilutions?
The Pythagoreans noticed that nice simple ratios of string length
made nice sounds together.
A Sudoku with clues as ratios.
Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six
pointed star and an eight pointed star.
The scale on a piano does something clever : the ratio (interval) between any adjacent points on the scale is equal. If you play any note, twelve points higher will be exactly an octave on.
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.
Match pairs of cards so that they have equivalent ratios.
The diagram shows a regular pentagon with sides of unit length.
Find all the angles in the diagram. Prove that the quadrilateral
shown in red is a rhombus.
Using an understanding that 1:2 and 2:3 were good ratios, start
with a length and keep reducing it to 2/3 of itself. Each time that
took the length under 1/2 they doubled it to get back within range.
Rectangle PQRS has X and Y on the edges. Triangles PQY, YRX and XSP
have equal areas. Prove X and Y divide the sides of PQRS in the
Scientists often require solutions which are diluted to a
particular concentration. In this problem, you can explore the
mathematics of simple dilutions
What's the most efficient proportion for a 1 litre tin of paint?
In the diagram the radius length is 10 units, OP is 8 units and OQ
is 6 units. If the distance PQ is 5 units what is the distance P'Q'
Can you work out the fraction of the original triangle that is
covered by the inner triangle?
The Earth is further from the Sun than Venus, but how much further?
Twice as far? Ten times?