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

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Children at Large

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

There are four children in a family, two girls, Kate and Sally, and two boys, Tom and Ben. How old are the children?

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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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Hockey

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

After some matches were played, most of the information in the table containing the results of the games was accidentally deleted. What was the score in each match played?

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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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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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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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A Long Time at the Till

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

Try to solve this very difficult problem and then study our two suggested solutions. How would you use your knowledge to try to solve variants on the original problem?

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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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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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Online

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A game for 2 players that can be played online. Players take it in turns to select a word from the 9 words given. The aim is to select all the occurrences of the same letter.

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Symmetric Tangles

Stage: 4

The tangles created by the twists and turns of the Conway rope trick are surprisingly symmetrical. Here's why!

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Sticky Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

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Football Champs

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

Three teams have each played two matches. The table gives the total number points and goals scored for and against each team. Fill in the table and find the scores in the three matches.

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Flight of the Flibbins

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

Blue Flibbins are so jealous of their red partners that they will not leave them on their own with any other bue Flibbin. What is the quickest way of getting the five pairs of Flibbins safely to. . . .

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Elevenses

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?

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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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The Great Weights Puzzle

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

You have twelve weights, one of which is different from the rest. Using just 3 weighings, can you identify which weight is the odd one out, and whether it is heavier or lighter than the rest?

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Concrete Wheel

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A huge wheel is rolling past your window. What do you see?

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Convex Polygons

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

Show that among the interior angles of a convex polygon there cannot be more than three acute angles.

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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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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.

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How Many Dice?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A standard die has the numbers 1, 2 and 3 are opposite 6, 5 and 4 respectively so that opposite faces add to 7? If you make standard dice by writing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 on blank cubes you will find. . . .

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Tower of Hanoi

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.

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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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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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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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Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.

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Knight Defeated

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The knight's move on a chess board is 2 steps in one direction and one step in the other direction. Prove that a knight cannot visit every square on the board once and only (a tour) on a 2 by n board. . . .

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Salinon

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This shape comprises four semi-circles. What is the relationship between the area of the shaded region and the area of the circle on AB as diameter?

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Gift of Gems

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Four jewellers share their stock. Can you work out the relative values of their gems?

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Seven Squares - Group-worthy Task

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

Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?

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Some Circuits in Graph or Network Theory

Stage: 4 and 5

Eulerian and Hamiltonian circuits are defined with some simple examples and a couple of puzzles to illustrate Hamiltonian circuits.

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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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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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Picture Story

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you see how this picture illustrates the formula for the sum of the first six cube numbers?

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N000ughty Thoughts

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

How many noughts are at the end of these giant numbers?

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The Pillar of Chios

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

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. . . .

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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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Janine's Conjecture

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .

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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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Leonardo's Problem

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

A, B & C own a half, a third and a sixth of a coin collection. Each grab some coins, return some, then share equally what they had put back, finishing with their own share. How rich are they?

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Clocked

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

Is it possible to rearrange the numbers 1,2......12 around a clock face in such a way that every two numbers in adjacent positions differ by any of 3, 4 or 5 hours?

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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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Shuffle Shriek

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?

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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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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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Tessellating Hexagons

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

Which hexagons tessellate?

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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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Why 24?

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Take any prime number greater than 3 , square it and subtract one. Working on the building blocks will help you to explain what is special about your results.

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Whole Number Dynamics IV

Stage: 4 and 5

Start with any whole number N, write N as a multiple of 10 plus a remainder R and produce a new whole number N'. Repeat. What happens?