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. . . .
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
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. . . .
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?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
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. . . .
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. . . .
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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.
An AP rectangle is one whose area is numerically equal to its perimeter. If you are given the length of a side can you always find an AP rectangle with one side the given length?
Many numbers can be expressed as the difference of two perfect squares. What do you notice about the numbers you CANNOT make?
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
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?
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?
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle
numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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.
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?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
Explore the effect of combining enlargements.
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. . . .
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two parallel mirror lines.
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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.
Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
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 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?
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. . . .
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
For this challenge, you'll need to play Got It! Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...