Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers
and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind
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 2 by 3 rectangle contains 8 squares and a 3 by 4 rectangle
contains 20 squares. What size rectangle(s) contain(s) exactly 100
squares? Can you find them all?
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.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how
For this challenge, you'll need to play Got It! Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
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?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
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.
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?
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?
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?
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
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
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.
Explore the effect of combining enlargements.
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.
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.
Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
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. . . .
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 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. . . .
Polygons drawn on square dotty paper have dots on their perimeter
(p) and often internal (i) ones as well. Find a relationship
between p, i and the area of the polygons.
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 find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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?
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 are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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 the values at the vertices when you know the values on
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?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
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.
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
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?