The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Find out what a "fault-free" rectangle is and try to make some of
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
This challenge asks you to imagine a snake coiling on itself.
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. . . .
Use your addition and subtraction skills, combined with some strategic thinking, to beat your partner at this game.
Only one side of a two-slice toaster is working. What is the
quickest way to toast both sides of three slices of bread?
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.
These squares have been made from Cuisenaire rods. Can you describe
the pattern? What would the next square look like?
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?
Find the sum and difference between a pair of two-digit numbers. Now find the sum and difference between the sum and difference! What happens?
This challenge focuses on finding the sum and difference of pairs of two-digit numbers.
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?
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
Find the sum of all three-digit numbers each of whose digits is
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.
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle
numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the
How can you arrange these 10 matches in four piles so that when you
move one match from three of the piles into the fourth, you end up
with the same arrangement?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat?
How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Can you see why 2 by 2 could be 5? Can you predict what 2 by 10
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?
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?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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.
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?
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.
A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.
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?
Use the interactivity to investigate what kinds of triangles can be
drawn on peg boards with different numbers of pegs.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
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.
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Can you put the numbers 1-5 in the V shape so that both 'arms' have the same total?
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
Polygonal numbers are those that are arranged in shapes as they enlarge. Explore the polygonal numbers drawn here.
Tom and Ben visited Numberland. Use the maps to work out the number
of points each of their routes scores.
What can you say about these shapes? This problem challenges you to
create shapes with different areas and perimeters.
Sweets are given out to party-goers in a particular way. Investigate the total number of sweets received by people sitting in different positions.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!