Problem solving is at the heart of the NRICH site. All the problems give learners opportunities to learn, develop or use mathematical concepts and skills. Read here for more information.
Some puzzles requiring no knowledge of knot theory, just a careful inspection of the patterns. A glimpse of the classification of knots and a little about prime knots, crossing numbers and. . . .
The picture illustrates the sum 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = (4 x 5)/2. Prove the general formula for the sum of the first n natural numbers and the formula for the sum of the cubes of the first n natural. . . .
A game for 2 players
Can you find a rule which relates triangular numbers to square numbers?
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
The triangle OMN has vertices on the axes with whole number co-ordinates. How many points with whole number coordinates are there on the hypotenuse MN?
If you move the tiles around, can you make squares with different coloured edges?
Can you discover whether this is a fair game?
The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of moves.
Three frogs hopped onto the table. A red frog on the left a green in the middle and a blue frog on the right. Then frogs started jumping randomly over any adjacent frog. Is it possible for them to. . . .
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.
What happens to the perimeter of triangle ABC as the two smaller circles change size and roll around inside the bigger circle?
Jo made a cube from some smaller cubes, painted some of the faces of the large cube, and then took it apart again. 45 small cubes had no paint on them at all. How many small cubes did Jo use?
How many winning lines can you make in a three-dimensional version of noughts and crosses?
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
Can you see how this picture illustrates the formula for the sum of the first six cube numbers?
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?
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. . . .
Semi-regular tessellations combine two or more different regular polygons to fill the plane. Can you find all the semi-regular tessellations?
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 you make a tetrahedron whose faces all have the same perimeter?
Can you maximise the area available to a grazing goat?
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
This article for teachers discusses examples of problems in which there is no obvious method but in which children can be encouraged to think deeply about the context and extend their ability to. . . .
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?
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
A tilted square is a square with no horizontal sides. Can you devise a general instruction for the construction of a square when you are given just one of its sides?
Show that all pentagonal numbers are one third of a triangular number.
Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.
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?
Players take it in turns to choose a dot on the grid. The winner is the first to have four dots that can be joined to form a square.
A bus route has a total duration of 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes, two buses set out, one from each end. How many buses will one bus meet on its way from one end to the other end?
Can you find a rule which connects consecutive triangular numbers?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
How many different symmetrical shapes can you make by shading triangles or squares?
We are given a regular icosahedron having three red vertices. Show that it has a vertex that has at least two red neighbours.
Every day at noon a boat leaves Le Havre for New York while another boat leaves New York for Le Havre. The ocean crossing takes seven days. How many boats will each boat cross during their journey?
Imagine you have an unlimited number of four types of triangle. How many different tetrahedra can you make?
On a clock the three hands - the second, minute and hour hands - are on the same axis. How often in a 24 hour day will the second hand be parallel to either of the two other hands?
An irregular tetrahedron is composed of four different triangles. Can such a tetrahedron be constructed where the side lengths are 4, 5, 6, 7, 8 and 9 units of length?
Can you mentally fit the 7 SOMA pieces together to make a cube? Can you do it in more than one way?
Slide the pieces to move Khun Phaen past all the guards into the position on the right from which he can escape to freedom.
A 3x3x3 cube may be reduced to unit cubes in six saw cuts. If after every cut you can rearrange the pieces before cutting straight through, can you do it in fewer?
A game for 2 players. Can be played online. One player has 1 red counter, the other has 4 blue. The red counter needs to reach the other side, and the blue needs to trap the red.