It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
Polygons drawn on square dotty paper have dots on their perimeter
(p) and often internal (i) ones as well. Find a relationship
between p, i and the area of the polygons.
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.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a
pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow
paint on their faces?
Compare the numbers of particular tiles in one or all of these
three designs, inspired by the floor tiles of a church in
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
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.
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
One block is needed to make an up-and-down staircase, with one step up and one step down. How many blocks would be needed to build an up-and-down staircase with 5 steps up and 5 steps down?
Consider all two digit numbers (10, 11, . . . ,99). In writing down
all these numbers, which digits occur least often, and which occur
most often ? What about three digit numbers, four digit numbers. . . .
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
Take any two positive numbers. Calculate the arithmetic and geometric means. Repeat the calculations to generate a sequence of arithmetic means and geometric means. Make a note of what happens to the. . . .
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of
adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain
why and prove it?
The sum of the numbers 4 and 1 [1/3] is the same as the product of 4 and 1 [1/3]; that is to say 4 + 1 [1/3] = 4 × 1 [1/3]. What other numbers have the sum equal to the product and can this be so for. . . .
Find some examples of pairs of numbers such that their sum is a
factor of their product. eg. 4 + 12 = 16 and 4 × 12 = 48 and
16 is a factor of 48.
This challenge asks you to imagine a snake coiling on itself.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
What can you say about these shapes? This problem challenges you to create shapes with different areas and perimeters.
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?
Here are two kinds of spirals for you to explore. What do you notice?
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
A country has decided to have just two different coins, 3z and 5z
coins. Which totals can be made? Is there a largest total that
cannot be made? How do you know?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
How many centimetres of rope will I need to make another mat just
like the one I have here?
Imagine you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights. How many of each weight would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg? What other averages could you have?
An investigation that gives you the opportunity to make and justify
A package contains a set of resources designed to develop
pupils’ mathematical thinking. This package places a
particular emphasis on “generalising” and is designed
to meet the. . . .
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
In this problem we are looking at sets of parallel sticks that
cross each other. What is the least number of crossings you can
make? And the greatest?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
We can show that (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1 by considering
the area of an (x + 1) by (x + 1) square. Show in a similar way
that (x + 2)² = x² + 4x + 4
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with
a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a
layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?