A cheap and simple toy with lots of mathematics. Can you interpret
the images that are produced? Can you predict the pattern that will
be produced using different wheels?
Use a single sheet of A4 paper and make a cylinder having the greatest possible volume. The cylinder must be closed off by a circle at each end.
See if you can anticipate successive 'generations' of the two
animals shown here.
How efficiently can you pack together disks?
A circle rolls around the outside edge of a square so that its circumference always touches the edge of the square. Can you describe the locus of the centre of the circle?
Which is a better fit, a square peg in a round hole or a round peg
in a square hole?
What happens to the perimeter of triangle ABC as the two smaller
circles change size and roll around inside the bigger circle?
A floor is covered by a tessellation of equilateral triangles, each having three equal arcs inside it. What proportion of the area of the tessellation is shaded?
In a right angled triangular field, three animals are tethered to posts at the midpoint of each side. Each rope is just long enough to allow the animal to reach two adjacent vertices. Only one animal. . . .
If you continue the pattern, can you predict what each of the following areas will be? Try to explain your prediction.
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
A circle with the radius of 2.2 centimetres is drawn touching the sides of a square. What area of the square is NOT covered by the circle?
Read all about the number pi and the mathematicians who have tried to find out its value as accurately as possible.
A square of area 40 square cms is inscribed in a semicircle. Find
the area of the square that could be inscribed in a circle of the
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
Investigate the different ways of cutting a perfectly circular pie into equal pieces using exactly 3 cuts. The cuts have to be along chords of the circle (which might be diameters).
This article gives an wonderful insight into students working on the Arclets problem that first appeared in the Sept 2002 edition of the NRICH website.
Find the area of the annulus in terms of the length of the chord
which is tangent to the inner circle.
Equal circles can be arranged so that each circle touches four or
six others. What percentage of the plane is covered by circles in
each packing pattern? ...
The largest square which fits into a circle is ABCD and EFGH is a square with G and H on the line CD and E and F on the circumference of the circle. Show that AB = 5EF.
Similarly the largest. . . .
This article for pupils gives some examples of how circles have featured in people's lives for centuries.
A blue coin rolls round two yellow coins which touch. The coins are
the same size. How many revolutions does the blue coin make when it
rolls all the way round the yellow coins? Investigate for a. . . .
Can Jo make a gym bag for her trainers from the piece of fabric she has?
Show that for any triangle it is always possible to construct 3
touching circles with centres at the vertices. Is it possible to
construct touching circles centred at the vertices of any polygon?
Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other.
What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles
Thinking of circles as polygons with an infinite number of sides -
but how does this help us with our understanding of the
circumference of circle as pi x d? This challenge investigates. . . .
Two circles are enclosed by a rectangle 12 units by x units. The distance between the centres of the two circles is x/3 units. How big is x?
A metal puzzle which led to some mathematical questions.
Semicircles are drawn on the sides of a rectangle ABCD. A circle passing through points ABCD carves out four crescent-shaped regions. Prove that the sum of the areas of the four crescents is equal to. . . .
Points A, B and C are the centres of three circles, each one of which touches the other two. Prove that the perimeter of the triangle ABC is equal to the diameter of the largest circle.
The sides of a triangle are 25, 39 and 40 units of length. Find the diameter of the circumscribed circle.
Can you reproduce the design comprising a series of concentric
circles? Test your understanding of the realtionship betwwn the
circumference and diameter of a circle.
Have a go at creating these images based on circles. What do you notice about the areas of the different sections?
What shapes should Elly cut out to make a witch's hat? How can she make a taller hat?
What is the same and what is different about these circle
questions? What connections can you make?
Construct this design using only compasses
Introducing a geometrical instrument with 3 basic capabilities.
By inscribing a circle in a square and then a square in a circle
find an approximation to pi. By using a hexagon, can you improve on
This shape comprises four semi-circles. What is the relationship
between the area of the shaded region and the area of the circle on
AB as diameter?
In LOGO circles can be described in terms of polygons with an
infinite (in this case large number) of sides - investigate this
Prove that the shaded area of the semicircle is equal to the area of the inner circle.
Two semi-circles (each of radius 1/2) touch each other, and a semi-circle of radius 1 touches both of them. Find the radius of the circle which touches all three semi-circles.
We have four rods of equal lengths hinged at their endpoints to
form a rhombus ABCD. Keeping AB fixed we allow CD to take all
possible positions in the plane. What is the locus (or path) of the
point. . . .
A security camera, taking pictures each half a second, films a
cyclist going by. In the film, the cyclist appears to go forward
while the wheels appear to go backwards. Why?
A white cross is placed symmetrically in a red disc with the central square of side length sqrt 2 and the arms of the cross of length 1 unit. What is the area of the disc still showing?
M is any point on the line AB. Squares of side length AM and MB are
constructed and their circumcircles intersect at P (and M). Prove
that the lines AD and BE produced pass through P.
Given a square ABCD of sides 10 cm, and using the corners as
centres, construct four quadrants with radius 10 cm each inside the
square. The four arcs intersect at P, Q, R and S. Find the. . . .
Two semicircle sit on the diameter of a semicircle centre O of
twice their radius. Lines through O divide the perimeter into two
parts. What can you say about the lengths of these two parts?
At the corner of the cube circular arcs are drawn and the area enclosed shaded. What fraction of the surface area of the cube is shaded? Try working out the answer without recourse to pencil and. . . .
Bluey-green, white and transparent squares with a few odd bits of
shapes around the perimeter. But, how many squares are there of
each type in the complete circle? Study the picture and make. . . .