A red square and a blue square overlap so that the corner of the red square rests on the centre of the blue square. Show that, whatever the orientation of the red square, it covers a quarter of the. . . .
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but
what if they were tilted?
Can you show that you can share a square pizza equally between two
people by cutting it four times using vertical, horizontal and
diagonal cuts through any point inside the square?
Charlie likes tablecloths that use as many colours as possible, but insists that his tablecloths have some symmetry. Can you work out how many colours he needs for different tablecloth designs?
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
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.
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?
Triangle numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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
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.
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
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.
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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.
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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?
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.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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. . . .
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.
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
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?
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.
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 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. . . .
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. . . .
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
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
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit
fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or
subtract consecutive negative numbers?
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?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
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 dissect a square into: 4, 7, 10, 13... other squares? 6, 9,
12, 15... other squares? 8, 11, 14... other squares?
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?
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?