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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Mathematical reasoning & proof

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Sprouts Explained

Stage: 2, 3, 4 and 5

This article invites you to get familiar with a strategic game called "sprouts". The game is simple enough for younger children to understand, and has also provided experienced mathematicians with. . . .

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Ratty

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

If you know the sizes of the angles marked with coloured dots in this diagram which angles can you find by calculation?

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Cycle It

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Carry out cyclic permutations of nine digit numbers containing the digits from 1 to 9 (until you get back to the first number). Prove that whatever number you choose, they will add to the same total.

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The Genie in the Jar

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This jar used to hold perfumed oil. It contained enough oil to fill granid silver bottles. Each bottle held enough to fill ozvik golden goblets and each goblet held enough to fill vaswik crystal. . . .

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One O Five

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .

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Advent Calendar 2011 - Secondary

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.

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Con Tricks

Stage: 3

Here are some examples of 'cons', and see if you can figure out where the trick is.

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Pythagorean Triples I

Stage: 3 and 4

The first of two articles on Pythagorean Triples which asks how many right angled triangles can you find with the lengths of each side exactly a whole number measurement. Try it!

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Unit Fractions

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Consider the equation 1/a + 1/b + 1/c = 1 where a, b and c are natural numbers and 0 < a < b < c. Prove that there is only one set of values which satisfy this equation.

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A Chordingly

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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

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Pattern of Islands

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

In how many distinct ways can six islands be joined by bridges so that each island can be reached from every other island...

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Impossible Sandwiches

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

In this 7-sandwich: 7 1 3 1 6 4 3 5 7 2 4 6 2 5 there are 7 numbers between the 7s, 6 between the 6s etc. The article shows which values of n can make n-sandwiches and which cannot.

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Pythagorean Triples II

Stage: 3 and 4

This is the second article on right-angled triangles whose edge lengths are whole numbers.

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Yih or Luk Tsut K'i or Three Men's Morris

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Some puzzles requiring no knowledge of knot theory, just a careful inspection of the patterns. A glimpse of the classification of knots and a little about prime knots, crossing numbers and. . . .

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Tis Unique

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This addition sum uses all ten digits 0, 1, 2...9 exactly once. Find the sum and show that the one you give is the only possibility.

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Geometry and Gravity 2

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

This is the second of two articles and discusses problems relating to the curvature of space, shortest distances on surfaces, triangulations of surfaces and representation by graphs.

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Growing Ls

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you fit Ls together to make larger versions of themselves?

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Greetings

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

From a group of any 4 students in a class of 30, each has exchanged Christmas cards with the other three. Show that some students have exchanged cards with all the other students in the class. How. . . .

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Marbles

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

I start with a red, a green and a blue marble. I can trade any of my marbles for two others, one of each colour. Can I end up with five more blue marbles than red after a number of such trades?

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Tri-colour

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Six points are arranged in space so that no three are collinear. How many line segments can be formed by joining the points in pairs?

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More Marbles

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

I start with a red, a blue, a green and a yellow marble. I can trade any of my marbles for three others, one of each colour. Can I end up with exactly two marbles of each colour?

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What Numbers Can We Make Now?

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?

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Multiplication Square

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

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Rotating Triangle

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What happens to the perimeter of triangle ABC as the two smaller circles change size and roll around inside the bigger circle?

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Cross-country Race

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Eight children enter the autumn cross-country race at school. How many possible ways could they come in at first, second and third places?

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Go Forth and Generalise

Stage: 3

Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.

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Shuffle Shriek

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?

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Pyramids

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What are the missing numbers in the pyramids?

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Königsberg

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?

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Mindreader

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .

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Konigsberg Plus

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.

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Always the Same

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Arrange the numbers 1 to 16 into a 4 by 4 array. Choose a number. Cross out the numbers on the same row and column. Repeat this process. Add up you four numbers. Why do they always add up to 34?

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Tourism

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable. Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.

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Winning Team

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Nine cross country runners compete in a team competition in which there are three matches. If you were a judge how would you decide who would win?

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The Triangle Game

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you discover whether this is a fair game?

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Eleven

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Replace each letter with a digit to make this addition correct.

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Top-heavy Pyramids

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Use the numbers in the box below to make the base of a top-heavy pyramid whose top number is 200.

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Paradoxes

Stage: 2 and 3

A paradox is a statement that seems to be both untrue and true at the same time. This article looks at a few examples and challenges you to investigate them for yourself.

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On the Importance of Pedantry

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

A introduction to how patterns can be deceiving, and what is and is not a proof.

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Coins on a Plate

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Points A, B and C are the centres of three circles, each one of which touches the other two. Prove that the perimeter of the triangle ABC is equal to the diameter of the largest circle.

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1 Step 2 Step

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?

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Not Necessarily in That Order

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Baker, Cooper, Jones and Smith are four people whose occupations are teacher, welder, mechanic and programmer, but not necessarily in that order. What is each person’s occupation?

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Master Minding

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Your partner chooses two beads and places them side by side behind a screen. What is the minimum number of guesses you would need to be sure of guessing the two beads and their positions?

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Aba

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

In the following sum the letters A, B, C, D, E and F stand for six distinct digits. Find all the ways of replacing the letters with digits so that the arithmetic is correct.

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9 Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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?

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More Number Pyramids

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...

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Classifying Solids Using Angle Deficiency

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Toni Beardon has chosen this article introducing a rich area for practical exploration and discovery in 3D geometry

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Cyclic Quadrilaterals

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What can you say about the angles on opposite vertices of any cyclic quadrilateral? Working on the building blocks will give you insights that may help you to explain what is special about them.

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Logic

Stage: 2 and 3

What does logic mean to us and is that different to mathematical logic? We will explore these questions in this article.

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Volume of a Pyramid and a Cone

Stage: 3

These formulae are often quoted, but rarely proved. In this article, we derive the formulae for the volumes of a square-based pyramid and a cone, using relatively simple mathematical concepts.