Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.
A game for 2 players
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to eat chocolate. Multiply this number by 2...
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?
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.
Can you explain how this card trick works?
An account of some magic squares and their properties and and how to construct them for yourself.
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?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
A game for 2 players with similaritlies to NIM. Place one counter on each spot on the games board. Players take it is turns to remove 1 or 2 adjacent counters. The winner picks up the last counter.
ABC and DEF are equilateral triangles of side 3 and 4 respectively. Construct an equilateral triangle whose area is the sum of the area of ABC and DEF.
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 collection of games on the NIM theme
What would be the smallest number of moves needed to move a Knight from a chess set from one corner to the opposite corner of a 99 by 99 square board?
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 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.
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.
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 find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
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?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
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.
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.
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
These gnomons appear to have more than a passing connection with the Fibonacci sequence. This problem ask you to investigate some of these connections.
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 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 moves.
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
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. . . .
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?”
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?
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.
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.
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?
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?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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.
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
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?