Jo has three numbers which she adds together in pairs. When she
does this she has three different totals: 11, 17 and 22 What are
the three numbers Jo had to start with?”
Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take
three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then
add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
Choose any two numbers. Call them a and b. Work out the arithmetic mean and the geometric mean. Which is bigger? Repeat for other pairs of numbers. What do you notice?
First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like
to eat chocolate. Multiply this number by 2...
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. . . .
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
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
Many numbers can be expressed as the difference of two perfect
squares. What do you notice about the numbers you CANNOT make?
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
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?
Triangle ABC is an equilateral triangle with three parallel lines going through the vertices. Calculate the length of the sides of the triangle if the perpendicular distances between the parallel. . . .
Charlie likes tablecloths that use as many colours as possible, but insists that his tablecloths have some symmetry. Can you work out how many colours he needs for different tablecloth designs?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on
the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you
Can you find the area of a parallelogram defined by two vectors?
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?
A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .
Can you explain the surprising results Jo found when she calculated
the difference between square numbers?
Sets of integers like 3, 4, 5 are called Pythagorean Triples, because they could be the lengths of the sides of a right-angled triangle. Can you find any more?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
Can you show that you can share a square pizza equally between two
people by cutting it four times using vertical, horizontal and
diagonal cuts through any point inside the square?
Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten.
Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .
Jo made a cube from some smaller cubes, painted some of the faces
of the large cube, and then took it apart again. 45 small cubes had
no paint on them at all. How many small cubes did Jo use?
These gnomons appear to have more than a passing connection with
the Fibonacci sequence. This problem ask you to investigate some of
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of
11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
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?
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.
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.
A game for 2 players
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.
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
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.
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right
hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of
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 describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of
squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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.
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?