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Broad Topics > Decision Mathematics and Combinatorics > Combinations

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The Puzzling Sweet Shop

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

There were chews for 2p, mini eggs for 3p, Chocko bars for 5p and lollypops for 7p in the sweet shop. What could each of the children buy with their money?

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Map Folding

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Take a rectangle of paper and fold it in half, and half again, to make four smaller rectangles. How many different ways can you fold it up?

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Six Is the Sum

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

What do the digits in the number fifteen add up to? How many other numbers have digits with the same total but no zeros?

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Delia's Routes

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

A little mouse called Delia lives in a hole in the bottom of a tree.....How many days will it be before Delia has to take the same route again?

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Calendar Cubes

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Make a pair of cubes that can be moved to show all the days of the month from the 1st to the 31st.

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A Rod and a Pole

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

A lady has a steel rod and a wooden pole and she knows the length of each. How can she measure out an 8 unit piece of pole?

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Wag Worms

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

When intergalactic Wag Worms are born they look just like a cube. Each year they grow another cube in any direction. Find all the shapes that five-year-old Wag Worms can be.

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Penta Primes

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Using all ten cards from 0 to 9, rearrange them to make five prime numbers. Can you find any other ways of doing it?

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Break it Up!

Age 5 to 11 Challenge Level:

In how many different ways can you break up a stick of 7 interlocking cubes? Now try with a stick of 8 cubes and a stick of 6 cubes.

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Penta Post

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Here are the prices for 1st and 2nd class mail within the UK. You have an unlimited number of each of these stamps. Which stamps would you need to post a parcel weighing 825g?

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Two and One

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Terry and Ali are playing a game with three balls. Is it fair that Terry wins when the middle ball is red?

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Teddy Town

Age 5 to 14 Challenge Level:

There are nine teddies in Teddy Town - three red, three blue and three yellow. There are also nine houses, three of each colour. Can you put them on the map of Teddy Town according to the rules?

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Triangle Animals

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

How many different ways can you find to join three equilateral triangles together? Can you convince us that you have found them all?

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Tetrahedron Faces

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

One face of a regular tetrahedron is painted blue and each of the remaining faces are painted using one of the colours red, green or yellow. How many different possibilities are there?

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Jumping Cricket

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

El Crico the cricket has to cross a square patio to get home. He can jump the length of one tile, two tiles and three tiles. Can you find a path that would get El Crico home in three jumps?

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Two Egg Timers

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

You have two egg timers. One takes 4 minutes exactly to empty and the other takes 7 minutes. What times in whole minutes can you measure and how?

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Magic Triangle

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Place the digits 1 to 9 into the circles so that each side of the triangle adds to the same total.

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Calcunos

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

If we had 16 light bars which digital numbers could we make? How will you know you've found them all?

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Mixed-up Socks

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Start with three pairs of socks. Now mix them up so that no mismatched pair is the same as another mismatched pair. Is there more than one way to do it?

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Buying a Balloon

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Lolla bought a balloon at the circus. She gave the clown six coins to pay for it. What could Lolla have paid for the balloon?

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Polo Square

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Arrange eight of the numbers between 1 and 9 in the Polo Square below so that each side adds to the same total.

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Cuisenaire Environment

Age 5 to 11 Challenge Level:

An environment which simulates working with Cuisenaire rods.

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Chocs, Mints, Jellies

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

In a bowl there are 4 Chocolates, 3 Jellies and 5 Mints. Find a way to share the sweets between the three children so they each get the kind they like. Is there more than one way to do it?

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Rod Measures

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Using 3 rods of integer lengths, none longer than 10 units and not using any rod more than once, you can measure all the lengths in whole units from 1 to 10 units. How many ways can you do this?

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Super Value Shapes

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

If each of these three shapes has a value, can you find the totals of the combinations? Perhaps you can use the shapes to make the given totals?

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Number Round Up

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Arrange the numbers 1 to 6 in each set of circles below. The sum of each side of the triangle should equal the number in its centre.

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Cereal Packets

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

How can you put five cereal packets together to make different shapes if you must put them face-to-face?

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Cat Food

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Sam sets up displays of cat food in his shop in triangular stacks. If Felix buys some, then how can Sam arrange the remaining cans in triangular stacks?

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Three Ball Line Up

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Use the interactivity to help get a feel for this problem and to find out all the possible ways the balls could land.

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The Twelve Pointed Star Game

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Have a go at this game which involves throwing two dice and adding their totals. Where should you place your counters to be more likely to win?

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Play a Merry Tune

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Explore the different tunes you can make with these five gourds. What are the similarities and differences between the two tunes you are given?

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Sorting Symmetries

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Find out how we can describe the "symmetries" of this triangle and investigate some combinations of rotating and flipping it.

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Nineteen Hexagons

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

In this maze of hexagons, you start in the centre at 0. The next hexagon must be a multiple of 2 and the next a multiple of 5. What are the possible paths you could take?

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Combining Cuisenaire

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Can you find all the different ways of lining up these Cuisenaire rods?

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More and More Buckets

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

In this challenge, buckets come in five different sizes. If you choose some buckets, can you investigate the different ways in which they can be filled?

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More Children and Plants

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.

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More Plant Spaces

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

This challenging activity involves finding different ways to distribute fifteen items among four sets, when the sets must include three, four, five and six items.

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Those Tea Cups

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Place the 16 different combinations of cup/saucer in this 4 by 4 arrangement so that no row or column contains more than one cup or saucer of the same colour.

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Button-up Some More

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?

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Button-up

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

My coat has three buttons. How many ways can you find to do up all the buttons?

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Cuisenaire Counting

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Here are some rods that are different colours. How could I make a dark green rod using yellow and white rods?

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Butterfly Cards

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Four children were sharing a set of twenty-four butterfly cards. Are there any cards they all want? Are there any that none of them want?

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Tiles on a Patio

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

How many ways can you find of tiling the square patio, using square tiles of different sizes?

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What Shape and Colour?

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

Can you fill in the empty boxes in the grid with the right shape and colour?

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Fair Exchange

Age 5 to 7 Challenge Level:

In your bank, you have three types of coins. The number of spots shows how much they are worth. Can you choose coins to exchange with the groups given to make the same total?

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Chocoholics

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

George and Jim want to buy a chocolate bar. George needs 2p more and Jim need 50p more to buy it. How much is the chocolate bar?

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Human Food

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

Sam displays cans in 3 triangular stacks. With the same number he could make one large triangular stack or stack them all in a square based pyramid. How many cans are there how were they arranged?

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Semaphore Signals

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Semaphore is a way to signal the alphabet using two flags. You might want to send a message that contains more than just letters. How many other symbols could you send using this code?

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The Secret World of Codes and Code Breaking

Age 7 to 16

When you think of spies and secret agents, you probably wouldn’t think of mathematics. Some of the most famous code breakers in history have been mathematicians.

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Finding Fifteen

Age 7 to 11 Challenge Level:

Tim had nine cards each with a different number from 1 to 9 on it. How could he have put them into three piles so that the total in each pile was 15?