Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.
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. . . .
Mark a point P inside a closed curve. Is it always possible to find two points that lie on the curve, such that P is the mid point of the line joining these two points?
Can you see how this picture illustrates the formula for the sum of the first six cube numbers?
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. . . .
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
Can you discover whether this is a fair game?
We are given a regular icosahedron having three red vertices. Show that it has a vertex that has at least two red neighbours.
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
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?
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.
Can you find a rule which relates triangular numbers to square numbers?
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?
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. . . .
A game for 2 players
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.
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
Can you find a rule which connects consecutive triangular numbers?
What's the largest volume of box you can make from a square of paper?
Your data is a set of positive numbers. What is the maximum value that the standard deviation can take?
Show that all pentagonal numbers are one third of a triangular number.
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.
Imagine a stack of numbered cards with one on top. Discard the top, put the next card to the bottom and repeat continuously. Can you predict the last card?
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
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?
Use the diagram to investigate the classical Pythagorean means.
A cyclist and a runner start off simultaneously around a race track each going at a constant speed. The cyclist goes all the way around and then catches up with the runner. He then instantly turns. . . .
Can you visualise whether these nets fold up into 3D shapes? Watch the videos each time to see if you were correct.
How many winning lines can you make in a three-dimensional version of noughts and crosses?
Find the point whose sum of distances from the vertices (corners) of a given triangle is a minimum.
A game for 2 people. Take turns joining two dots, until your opponent is unable to move.
Discover a way to sum square numbers by building cuboids from small cubes. Can you picture how the sequence will grow?
This is a simple version of an ancient game played all over the world. It is also called Mancala. What tactics will increase your chances of winning?
Simple additions can lead to intriguing results...
The reader is invited to investigate changes (or permutations) in the ringing of church bells, illustrated by braid diagrams showing the order in which the bells are rung.
This is an interactive net of a Rubik's cube. Twists of the 3D cube become mixes of the squares on the 2D net. Have a play and see how many scrambles you can undo!
Two motorboats travelling up and down a lake at constant speeds leave opposite ends A and B at the same instant, passing each other, for the first time 600 metres from A, and on their return, 400. . . .
How can visual patterns be used to prove sums of series?
Given the nets of 4 cubes with the faces coloured in 4 colours, build a tower so that on each vertical wall no colour is repeated, that is all 4 colours appear.
Explain why, when moving heavy objects on rollers, the object moves twice as fast as the rollers. Try a similar experiment yourself.
Can you make a tetrahedron whose faces all have the same perimeter?
In how many different ways can I colour the five edges of a pentagon red, blue and green so that no two adjacent edges are the same colour?
In this problem we are faced with an apparently easy area problem, but it has gone horribly wrong! What happened?
Find the ratio of the outer shaded area to the inner area for a six pointed star and an eight pointed star.
A cube is made from smaller cubes, 5 by 5 by 5, then some of those cubes are removed. Can you make the specified shapes, and what is the most and least number of cubes required ?
A bicycle passes along a path and leaves some tracks. Is it possible to say which track was made by the front wheel and which by the back wheel?
Place the numbers 1, 2, 3,..., 9 one on each square of a 3 by 3 grid so that all the rows and columns add up to a prime number. How many different solutions can you find?
A circular plate rolls inside a rectangular tray making five circuits and rotating about its centre seven times. Find the dimensions of the tray.
This article is based on some of the ideas that emerged during the production of a book which takes visualising as its focus. We began to identify problems which helped us to take a structured view. . . .