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Make a cube out of straws and have a go at this practical challenge.


Reasoning about the number of matches needed to build squares that share their sides.

Little Boxes

How many different cuboids can you make when you use four CDs or DVDs? How about using five, then six?

World of Tan 10 - Butterflies

Age 7 to 11
Challenge Level

This activity follows on from World of Tan 9 - Animals.

Little Ming had walked briskly to the zoo and, as instructed, had not turned round once (except for one tiny peek when going round the corner of Yuemei Street). He saw nothing unusual - just a handful of people scurrying home for dinner. At the zoo, he pushed the side gate and it swung open noiselessly. He paused, then crept through the gate and into the zoo.

By this time, the animals had already eaten and were mostly dozing in the bottom of their cages and enclosures. Only the monkeys shrieked as he walked by. Not daring to turn around, Little Ming felt that a thousand eyes were watching and following his every move.

Little Ming walked past the penguins' pool, glancing in at the birds who were swimming and diving, before proceeding on to the elephant house. There the baby elephants were rolling in the dust while the larger ones sprayed water on each other and had begun to bellow, gently at first but getting louder all the time.

Were they bellowing at each other or at Little Ming? Or at something else?

The giraffe house was the enclosure furthest away from the gate. Little Ming could see it in the distance. He noticed it was getting dark and the security lights were only just warming up and beginning to glow. For the first time he felt uneasy. Butterflies, big butterflies, were to beginning to gather in his stomach.

Suddenly, Little Ming felt a hand clamp down on his shoulder. He slowly turned around, and saw... Granma T!

Granma T quickly explained that the robbers had been caught making their way to the zoo. The plaque hadn't yet been recovered, but the thieves had given the following directions to the plaque:

Go to the light maze in the International Gardens.
Solve the problem and retrieve the plaque!

In the meantime, complete the silhouette of one of the butterflies found in Little Ming's tummy.

Extra activity:
  • Investigate the map and try to solve the problem of releasing the plaque.

The story continues in World of Tan 11 - The Past, Present and Future.