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

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Stonehenge

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Explain why, when moving heavy objects on rollers, the object moves twice as fast as the rollers. Try a similar experiment yourself.

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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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Logic, Truth Tables and Switching Circuits Challenge

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Learn about the link between logical arguments and electronic circuits. Investigate the logical connectives by making and testing your own circuits and fill in the blanks in truth tables to record. . . .

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Logic, Truth Tables and Switching Circuits

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Learn about the link between logical arguments and electronic circuits. Investigate the logical connectives by making and testing your own circuits and record your findings in truth tables.

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Truth Tables and Electronic Circuits

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

Investigate circuits and record your findings in this simple introduction to truth tables and logic.

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Air Nets

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

Can you visualise whether these nets fold up into 3D shapes? Watch the videos each time to see if you were correct.

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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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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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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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Fractional Calculus III

Stage: 5

Fractional calculus is a generalisation of ordinary calculus where you can differentiate n times when n is not a whole number.

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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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Matter of Scale

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

Prove Pythagoras' Theorem using enlargements and scale factors.

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Cube Net

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

How many tours visit each vertex of a cube once and only once? How many return to the starting point?

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AMGM

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

Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?

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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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Rhombus in Rectangle

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

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.

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Three Frogs

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Three frogs hopped onto the table. A red frog on the left a green in the middle and a blue frog on the right. Then frogs started jumping randomly over any adjacent frog. Is it possible for them to. . . .

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Round and Round

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

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

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Proofs with Pictures

Stage: 5

Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.

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Little and Large

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

A point moves around inside a rectangle. What are the least and the greatest values of the sum of the squares of the distances from the vertices?

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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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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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Rolling Coins

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A blue coin rolls round two yellow coins which touch. The coins are the same size. How many revolutions does the blue coin make when it rolls all the way round the yellow coins? Investigate for a. . . .

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Picturing Pythagorean Triples

Stage: 4 and 5

This article discusses how every Pythagorean triple (a, b, c) can be illustrated by a square and an L shape within another square. You are invited to find some triples for yourself.

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Square Pair Circles

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Investigate the number of points with integer coordinates on circles with centres at the origin for which the square of the radius is a power of 5.

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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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Fitting In

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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. . . .

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Natural Sum

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The picture illustrates the sum 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = (4 x 5)/2. Prove the general formula for the sum of the first n natural numbers and the formula for the sum of the cubes of the first n natural. . . .

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Circle Box

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

It is obvious that we can fit four circles of diameter 1 unit in a square of side 2 without overlapping. What is the smallest square into which we can fit 3 circles of diameter 1 unit?

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Proximity

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

We are given a regular icosahedron having three red vertices. Show that it has a vertex that has at least two red neighbours.

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Pythagoras Proofs

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

Can you make sense of these three proofs of Pythagoras' Theorem?

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Zig Zag

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

Four identical right angled triangles are drawn on the sides of a square. Two face out, two face in. Why do the four vertices marked with dots lie on one line?

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Middle Man

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Mark a point P inside a closed curve. Is it always possible to find two points that lie on the curve, such that P is the mid point of the line joining these two points?

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Kite in a Square

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Can you make sense of the three methods to work out the area of the kite in the square?

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The Frieze Tree

Stage: 3 and 4

Patterns that repeat in a line are strangely interesting. How many types are there and how do you tell one type from another?

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Dodgy Proofs

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

These proofs are wrong. Can you see why?

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Transitivity

Stage: 5

Suppose A always beats B and B always beats C, then would you expect A to beat C? Not always! What seems obvious is not always true. Results always need to be proved in mathematics.

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Sums of Squares and Sums of Cubes

Stage: 5

An account of methods for finding whether or not a number can be written as the sum of two or more squares or as the sum of two or more cubes.

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Continued Fractions II

Stage: 5

In this article we show that every whole number can be written as a continued fraction of the form k/(1+k/(1+k/...)).

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More Sums of Squares

Stage: 5

Tom writes about expressing numbers as the sums of three squares.

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Modulus Arithmetic and a Solution to Dirisibly Yours

Stage: 5

Peter Zimmerman from Mill Hill County High School in Barnet, London gives a neat proof that: 5^(2n+1) + 11^(2n+1) + 17^(2n+1) is divisible by 33 for every non negative integer n.

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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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L-triominoes

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

L triominoes can fit together to make larger versions of themselves. Is every size possible to make in this way?

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Euler's Formula and Topology

Stage: 5

Here is a proof of Euler's formula in the plane and on a sphere together with projects to explore cases of the formula for a polygon with holes, for the torus and other solids with holes and the. . . .

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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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More Dicey Decisions

Stage: 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The twelve edge totals of a standard six-sided die are distributed symmetrically. Will the same symmetry emerge with a dodecahedral die?

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Modulus Arithmetic and a Solution to Differences

Stage: 5

Peter Zimmerman, a Year 13 student at Mill Hill County High School in Barnet, London wrote this account of modulus arithmetic.

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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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Euclid's Algorithm II

Stage: 5

We continue the discussion given in Euclid's Algorithm I, and here we shall discover when an equation of the form ax+by=c has no solutions, and when it has infinitely many solutions.

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Magic Squares II

Stage: 4 and 5

An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.