Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
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. . . .
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
A collection of games on the NIM theme
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
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.
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 loser is the player who takes the last counter.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
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
A game for 2 players. Set out 16 counters in rows of 1,3,5 and 7.
Players take turns to remove any number of counters from a row. The
player left with the last counter looses.
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.
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
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. . . .
Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number
you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number
you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .
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
The triangle OMN has vertices on the axes with whole number co-ordinates. How many points with whole number coordinates are there on the hypotenuse MN?
Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?
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.
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?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
A game for 2 players
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
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.
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.
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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?
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. . . .
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?
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?
A red square and a blue square overlap so that the corner of the red square rests on the centre of the blue square. Show that, whatever the orientation of the red square, it covers a quarter of the. . . .
A counter is placed in the bottom right hand corner of a grid. You
toss a coin and move the star according to the following rules: ...
What is the probability that you end up in the top left-hand. . . .
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?
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the
patterns of play are similar.
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
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?
With one cut a piece of card 16 cm by 9 cm can be made into two pieces which can be rearranged to form a square 12 cm by 12 cm. Explain how this can be done.
Can you explain the surprising results Jo found when she calculated
the difference between square numbers?