The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
Find the sum of all three-digit numbers each of whose digits is
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases
overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of
his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
This activity involves rounding four-digit numbers to the nearest thousand.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Try adding together the dates of all the days in one week. Now
multiply the first date by 7 and add 21. Can you explain what
For this challenge, you'll need to play Got It! Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?
In this game for two players, the idea is to take it in turns to choose 1, 3, 5 or 7. The winner is the first to make the total 37.
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the
quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
Place the numbers from 1 to 9 in the squares below so that the difference between joined squares is odd. How many different ways can you do this?
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 see why 2 by 2 could be 5? Can you predict what 2 by 10
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Use your addition and subtraction skills, combined with some strategic thinking, to beat your partner at this game.
Put the numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 into the squares so that the
numbers on each circle add up to the same amount. Can you find the
rule for giving another set of six numbers?
Investigate the sum of the numbers on the top and bottom faces of a line of three dice. What do you notice?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Four bags contain a large number of 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s. Pick any ten numbers from the bags above so that their total is 37.
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3
digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits
you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
Use two dice to generate two numbers with one decimal place. What happens when you round these numbers to the nearest whole number?
Strike it Out game for an adult and child. Can you stop your partner from being able to go?
What happens when you round these three-digit numbers to the nearest 100?
This task follows on from Build it Up and takes the ideas into three dimensions!
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.
In a Magic Square all the rows, columns and diagonals add to the 'Magic Constant'. How would you change the magic constant of this square?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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?
In how many different ways can you break up a stick of 7 interlocking cubes? Now try with a stick of 8 cubes and a stick of 6 cubes.
This article for teachers describes several games, found on the
site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to
develop the skills of strategic planning.
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. . . .
Can you make dice stairs using the rules stated? How do you know you have all the possible stairs?
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?
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.
Ben’s class were cutting up number tracks. First they cut them into twos and added up the numbers on each piece. What patterns could they see?
Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players
take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single
pile. The winner is the player to take the last counter.
How many different journeys could you make if you were going to visit four stations in this network? How about if there were five stations? Can you predict the number of journeys for seven stations?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
Can you find all the ways to get 15 at the top of this triangle of numbers?
We can arrange dots in a similar way to the 5 on a dice and they
usually sit quite well into a rectangular shape. How many
altogether in this 3 by 5? What happens for other 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?
What happens if you join every second point on this circle? How
about every third point? Try with different steps and see if you
can predict what will happen.
This challenge, written for the Young Mathematicians' Award, invites you to explore 'centred squares'.