Mathematicians are always looking for efficient methods for solving problems. How efficient can you be?
An observer is on top of a lighthouse. How far from the foot of the lighthouse is the horizon that the observer can see?
Water freezes at 0°Celsius (32°Fahrenheit) and boils at 100°C (212°Fahrenheit). Is there a temperature at which Celsius and Fahrenheit readings are the same?
Two ladders are propped up against facing walls. The end of the first ladder is 10 metres above the foot of the first wall. The end of the second ladder is 5 metres above the foot of the second. . . .
Sissa cleverly asked the King for a reward that sounded quite modest but turned out to be rather large...
Your school has been left a million pounds in the will of an ex- pupil. What model of investment and spending would you use in order to ensure the best return on the money?
Powers of numbers behave in surprising ways. Take a look at some of these and try to explain why they are true.
The sums of the squares of three related numbers is also a perfect square - can you explain why?
Find the sum of this series of surds.
Here's a chance to work with large numbers...
Do you know a quick way to check if a number is a multiple of two? How about three, four or six?
Chris is enjoying a swim but needs to get back for lunch. If she can swim at 3 m/s and run at 7m/sec, how far along the bank should she land in order to get back as quickly as possible?
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
Why does this fold create an angle of sixty degrees?
What does this number mean ? Which order of 1, 2, 3 and 4 makes the highest value ? Which makes the lowest ?
What is the area of the quadrilateral APOQ? Working on the building blocks will give you some insights that may help you to work it out.
What is the largest number which, when divided into 1905, 2587, 3951, 7020 and 8725 in turn, leaves the same remainder each time?
Find the decimal equivalents of the fractions one ninth, one ninety ninth, one nine hundred and ninety ninth etc. Explain the pattern you get and generalise.
Is there an efficient way to work out how many factors a large number has?
Investigate how you can work out what day of the week your birthday will be on next year, and the year after...
A spider is sitting in the middle of one of the smallest walls in a room and a fly is resting beside the window. What is the shortest distance the spider would have to crawl to catch the fly?
On the graph there are 28 marked points. These points all mark the vertices (corners) of eight hidden squares. Can you find the eight hidden squares?
Can you find the area of a parallelogram defined by two vectors?
Can you work out the dimensions of the three cubes?
Chris and Jo put two red and four blue ribbons in a box. They each pick a ribbon from the box without looking. Jo wins if the two ribbons are the same colour. Is the game fair?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
What angle is needed for a ball to do a circuit of the billiard table and then pass through its original position?
Which has the greatest area, a circle or a square inscribed in an isosceles, right angle triangle?
A circle of radius r touches two sides of a right angled triangle, sides x and y, and has its centre on the hypotenuse. Can you prove the formula linking x, y and r?
Some people offer advice on how to win at games of chance, or how to influence probability in your favour. Can you decide whether advice is good or not?
Show that is it impossible to have a tetrahedron whose six edges have lengths 10, 20, 30, 40, 50 and 60 units...
How many winning lines can you make in a three-dimensional version of noughts and crosses?
A napkin is folded so that a corner coincides with the midpoint of an opposite edge . Investigate the three triangles formed .
The diagonals of a trapezium divide it into four parts. Can you create a trapezium where three of those parts are equal in area?
A hexagon, with sides alternately a and b units in length, is inscribed in a circle. How big is the radius of the circle?
The area of a square inscribed in a circle with a unit radius is, satisfyingly, 2. What is the area of a regular hexagon inscribed in a circle with a unit radius?
A 1 metre cube has one face on the ground and one face against a wall. A 4 metre ladder leans against the wall and just touches the cube. How high is the top of the ladder above the ground?
A game for 2 or more people, based on the traditional card game Rummy. Players aim to make two `tricks', where each trick has to consist of a picture of a shape, a name that describes that shape, and. . . .
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 same radius.
If the hypotenuse (base) length is 100cm and if an extra line splits the base into 36cm and 64cm parts, what were the side lengths for the original right-angled triangle?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
Find a cuboid (with edges of integer values) that has a surface area of exactly 100 square units. Is there more than one? Can you find them all?
Each of the following shapes is made from arcs of a circle of radius r. What is the perimeter of a shape with 3, 4, 5 and n "nodes".
Imagine you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights. How many of each weight would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg? What other averages could you have?
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?
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?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
A plastic funnel is used to pour liquids through narrow apertures. What shape funnel would use the least amount of plastic to manufacture for any specific volume ?
Which of these games would you play to give yourself the best possible chance of winning a prize?