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Challenge level: Challenge Level:1 Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:3

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

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Shuffle Shriek

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you find all the 4-ball shuffles?

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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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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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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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Triangle Inequality

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

ABC is an equilateral triangle and P is a point in the interior of the triangle. We know that AP = 3cm and BP = 4cm. Prove that CP must be less than 10 cm.

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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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Proof Sorter - Quadratic Equation

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

This is an interactivity in which you have to sort the steps in the completion of the square into the correct order to prove the formula for the solutions of quadratic equations.

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To Prove or Not to Prove

Stage: 4 and 5

A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.

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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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Dicing with Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

In how many ways can you arrange three dice side by side on a surface so that the sum of the numbers on each of the four faces (top, bottom, front and back) is equal?

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Add 3 Dice

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

Three dice are placed in a row. Find a way to turn each one so that the three numbers on top of the dice total the same as the three numbers on the front of the dice. Can you find all the ways to do. . . .

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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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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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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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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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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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Doodles

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Draw a 'doodle' - a closed intersecting curve drawn without taking pencil from paper. What can you prove about the intersections?

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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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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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Tessellating Hexagons

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

Which hexagons tessellate?

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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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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Unit Interval

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

Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the numbers is always less than one plus their product?

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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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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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Pyramids

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

What are the missing numbers in the pyramids?

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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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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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Russian Cubes

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

I want some cubes painted with three blue faces and three red faces. How many different cubes can be painted like that?

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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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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. . . .