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.
A game that demands a logical approach using systematic working to deduce a winning strategy
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?
Three dice are placed in a row. Find a way to turn each one so that the three numbers on top of the dice total the same as the three numbers on the front of the dice. Can you find all the ways to do. . . .
Eight children enter the autumn cross-country race at school. How many possible ways could they come in at first, second and third places?
Is it possible to rearrange the numbers 1,2......12 around a clock face in such a way that every two numbers in adjacent positions differ by any of 3, 4 or 5 hours?
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?
How many six digit numbers are there which DO NOT contain a 5?
In how many ways can you arrange three dice side by side on a surface so that the sum of the numbers on each of the four faces (top, bottom, front and back) is equal?
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?
Is it possible to use all 28 dominoes arranging them in squares of four? What patterns can you see in the solution(s)?
Here is a collection of puzzles about Sam's shop sent in by club members. Perhaps you can make up more puzzles, find formulas or find general methods.
Consider all of the five digit numbers which we can form using only the digits 2, 4, 6 and 8. If these numbers are arranged in ascending order, what is the 512th number?
Imagine you have six different colours of paint. You paint a cube using a different colour for each of the six faces. How many different cubes can be painted using the same set of six colours?
Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?
Make a pair of cubes that can be moved to show all the days of the month from the 1st to the 31st.
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.
I start my journey in Rio de Janeiro and visit all the cities as Hamilton described, passing through Canberra before Madrid, and then returning to Rio. What route could I have taken?
Blue Flibbins are so jealous of their red partners that they will not leave them on their own with any other bue Flibbin. What is the quickest way of getting the five pairs of Flibbins safely to. . . .
If these elves wear a different outfit every day for as many days as possible, how many days can their fun last?
In how many distinct ways can six islands be joined by bridges so that each island can be reached from every other island...
In a league of 5 football teams which play in a round robin tournament show that it is possible for all five teams to be league leaders.
Seven friends went to a fun fair with lots of scary rides. They decided to pair up for rides until each friend had ridden once with each of the others. What was the total number rides?
Can all but one square of an 8 by 8 Chessboard be covered by Trominoes?
In how many ways can a pound (value 100 pence) be changed into some combination of 1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 50 pence coins?
How many ways can you find to do up all four buttons on my coat? How about if I had five buttons? Six ...?
Using only the red and white rods, how many different ways are there to make up the other colours of rod?
How many positive integers less than or equal to 4000 can be written down without using the digits 7, 8 or 9?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
How many tricolour flags are possible with 5 available colours such that two adjacent stripes must NOT be the same colour. What about 256 colours?
The machine I use to produce Braille messages is faulty and one of the pins that makes a raised dot is not working. I typed a short message in Braille. Can you work out what it really says?
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.
Use the clues to work out which cities Mohamed, Sheng, Tanya and Bharat live in.
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?
This challenge extends the Plants investigation so now four or more children are involved.
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?
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?
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.
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?
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?
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?
What do the digits in the number fifteen add up to? How many other numbers have digits with the same total but no zeros?
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?
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?
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.
How can you put five cereal packets together to make different shapes if you must put them face-to-face?
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?
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?
An environment which simulates working with Cuisenaire rods.
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?