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?
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. . . .
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
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. . . .
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 whole number between 1 and 999, add the squares of the
digits to get a new number. Make some conjectures about what
happens in general.
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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?
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?
Start with two numbers. This is the start of a sequence. The next
number is the average of the last two numbers. Continue the
sequence. What will happen if you carry on for ever?
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. . . .
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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. . . .
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of
squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
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 find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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.
The diagram illustrates the formula: 1 + 3 + 5 + ... + (2n - 1) = nĀ² Use the diagram to show that any odd number is the difference of two squares.
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.
Can you dissect a square into: 4, 7, 10, 13... other squares? 6, 9,
12, 15... other squares? 8, 11, 14... other squares?
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?
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?
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?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
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?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
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 Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
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. . . .
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
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.
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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.
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Charlie and Lynne 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
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?