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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Working systematically

Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Stage: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

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.

9 Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

You have been given nine weights, one of which is slightly heavier than the rest. Can you work out which weight is heavier in just two weighings of the balance?

Twin Line-swapping Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

A pair of Sudoku puzzles that together lead to a complete solution.

Tea Cups

Stage: 2 and 3 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.

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Rather than using the numbers 1-9, this sudoku uses the nine different letters used to make the words "Advent Calendar".

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

You need to find the values of the stars before you can apply normal Sudoku rules.

Latin Squares

Stage: 3, 4 and 5

A Latin square of order n is an array of n symbols in which each symbol occurs exactly once in each row and exactly once in each column.

Diagonal Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Given the products of diagonally opposite cells - can you complete this Sudoku?

Counting on Letters

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

The letters of the word ABACUS have been arranged in the shape of a triangle. How many different ways can you find to read the word ABACUS from this triangular pattern?

More Magic Potting Sheds

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?

Maths Trails

Stage: 2 and 3

The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.

Constellation Sudoku

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Special clue numbers related to the difference between numbers in two adjacent cells and values of the stars in the "constellation" make this a doubly interesting problem.

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A few extra challenges set by some young NRICH members.

Oranges and Lemons, Say the Bells of St Clement's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Bellringers have a special way to write down the patterns they ring. Learn about these patterns and draw some of your own.

Cinema Problem

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A cinema has 100 seats. Show how it is possible to sell exactly 100 tickets and take exactly £100 if the prices are £10 for adults, 50p for pensioners and 10p for children.

Difference Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

Use the differences to find the solution to this Sudoku.

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

If you take a three by three square on a 1-10 addition square and multiply the diagonally opposite numbers together, what is the difference between these products. Why?

Multiples Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Each clue in this Sudoku is the product of the two numbers in adjacent cells.

Sticky Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

Inky Cube

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This cube has ink on each face which leaves marks on paper as it is rolled. Can you work out what is on each face and the route it has taken?

Olympic Logic

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Can you use your powers of logic and deduction to work out the missing information in these sporty situations?

Crossing the Town Square

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

This tricky challenge asks you to find ways of going across rectangles, going through exactly ten squares.

Making Maths: Double-sided Magic Square

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

Make your own double-sided magic square. But can you complete both sides once you've made the pieces?

LCM Sudoku II

Stage: 3, 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

You are given the Lowest Common Multiples of sets of digits. Find the digits and then solve the Sudoku.

More on Mazes

Stage: 2 and 3

There is a long tradition of creating mazes throughout history and across the world. This article gives details of mazes you can visit and those that you can tackle on paper.

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Four small numbers give the clue to the contents of the four surrounding cells.

Pole Star Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

This Sudoku, based on differences. Using the one clue number can you find the solution?

Colour Islands Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

An extra constraint means this Sudoku requires you to think in diagonals as well as horizontal and vertical lines and boxes of nine.

Star Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

The puzzle can be solved by finding the values of the unknown digits (all indicated by asterisks) in the squares of the $9\times9$ grid.

Twinkle Twinkle

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level:

A game for 2 people. Take turns placing a counter on the star. You win when you have completed a line of 3 in your colour.

Magic Caterpillars

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Label the joints and legs of these graph theory caterpillars so that the vertex sums are all equal.

Plum Tree

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level:

Label this plum tree graph to make it totally magic!

The Naked Pair in Sudoku

Stage: 2, 3 and 4

A particular technique for solving Sudoku puzzles, known as "naked pair", is explained in this easy-to-read article.

LCM Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

Here is a Sudoku with a difference! Use information about lowest common multiples to help you solve it.

How Old Are the Children?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A student in a maths class was trying to get some information from her teacher. She was given some clues and then the teacher ended by saying, "Well, how old are they?"

Football Sum

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Find the values of the nine letters in the sum: FOOT + BALL = GAME

Ones Only

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Find the smallest whole number which, when mutiplied by 7, gives a product consisting entirely of ones.

Pair Sums

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Five numbers added together in pairs produce: 0, 2, 4, 4, 6, 8, 9, 11, 13, 15 What are the five numbers?

Medal Muddle

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Countries from across the world competed in a sports tournament. Can you devise an efficient strategy to work out the order in which they finished?

Coins

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A man has 5 coins in his pocket. Given the clues, can you work out what the coins are?

Cayley

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

The letters in the following addition sum represent the digits 1 ... 9. If A=3 and D=2, what number is represented by "CAYLEY"?

Consecutive Negative Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?

Intersection Sums Sudoku

Stage: 2, 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

A Sudoku with clues given as sums of entries.

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Four numbers on an intersection that need to be placed in the surrounding cells. That is all you need to know to solve this sudoku.

Squares in Rectangles

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

A 2 by 3 rectangle contains 8 squares and a 3 by 4 rectangle contains 20 squares. What size rectangle(s) contain(s) exactly 100 squares? Can you find them all?

Twin Corresponding Sudokus II

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

Two sudokus in one. Challenge yourself to make the necessary connections.

Ben's Game

Stage: 3 Challenge Level:

Ben passed a third of his counters to Jack, Jack passed a quarter of his counters to Emma and Emma passed a fifth of her counters to Ben. After this they all had the same number of counters.

Magnetic Personality

Stage: 2, 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

60 pieces and a challenge. What can you make and how many of the pieces can you use creating skeleton polyhedra?

One Out One Under

Stage: 4 Challenge Level:

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?

Seasonal Twin Sudokus

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level:

This pair of linked Sudokus matches letters with numbers and hides a seasonal greeting. Can you find it?