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?
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
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?
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?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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 numbers?
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. . . .
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
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?
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. . . .
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?
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.
Many numbers can be expressed as the difference of two perfect squares. What do you notice about the numbers you CANNOT make?
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. . . .
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 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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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. . . .
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.
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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.
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
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.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
A game for 2 players
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
A collection of games on the NIM theme
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.
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. . . .
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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?
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. . . .
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to
explain why this is possible.
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.
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. . . .
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
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?