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

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Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

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

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.

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Games Related to Nim

Stage: 1, 2, 3 and 4

This article for teachers describes several games, found on the site, all of which have a related structure that can be used to develop the skills of strategic planning.

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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.

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Colour Islands Sudoku 2

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

In this Sudoku, there are three coloured "islands" in the 9x9 grid. Within each "island" EVERY group of nine cells that form a 3x3 square must contain the numbers 1 through 9.

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Sticky Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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

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Quadruple Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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

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Consecutive Negative Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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

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9 Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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?

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More Magic Potting Sheds

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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?

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You Owe Me Five Farthings, Say the Bells of St Martin's

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Use the interactivity to listen to the bells ringing a pattern. Now it's your turn! Play one of the bells yourself. How do you know when it is your turn to ring?

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Summing Consecutive Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?

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Quadruple Clue Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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.

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Pole Star Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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

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Weights

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Different combinations of the weights available allow you to make different totals. Which totals can you make?

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Colour in the Square

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

Can you put the 25 coloured tiles into the 5 x 5 square so that no column, no row and no diagonal line have tiles of the same colour in them?

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Intersection Sudoku 1

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

A Sudoku with a twist.

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Twin Line-swapping Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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

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Another Quadruple Clue Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This is a variation of sudoku which contains a set of special clue-numbers. Each set of 4 small digits stands for the numbers in the four cells of the grid adjacent to this set.

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One Out One Under

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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?

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Intersection Sudoku 2

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A Sudoku with a twist.

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Integrated Sums Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

The puzzle can be solved with the help of small clue-numbers which are either placed on the border lines between selected pairs of neighbouring squares of the grid or placed after slash marks on. . . .

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Bochap Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

This Sudoku combines all four arithmetic operations.

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Advent Calendar 2011 - Secondary

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

Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.

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A Long Time at the Till

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Try to solve this very difficult problem and then study our two suggested solutions. How would you use your knowledge to try to solve variants on the original problem?

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Special Numbers

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

My two digit number is special because adding the sum of its digits to the product of its digits gives me my original number. What could my number be?

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Twin Corresponding Sudoku

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

This sudoku requires you to have "double vision" - two Sudoku's for the price of one

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Tetrahedra Tester

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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?

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The Great Weights Puzzle

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

You have twelve weights, one of which is different from the rest. Using just 3 weighings, can you identify which weight is the odd one out, and whether it is heavier or lighter than the rest?

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When Will You Pay Me? Say the Bells of Old Bailey

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

Use the interactivity to play two of the bells in a pattern. How do you know when it is your turn to ring, and how do you know which bell to ring?

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Instant Insanity

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

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.

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Plum Tree

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Label this plum tree graph to make it totally magic!

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Alphabetti Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This Sudoku requires you to do some working backwards before working forwards.

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Simultaneous Equations Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Solve the equations to identify the clue numbers in this Sudoku problem.

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LOGO Challenge - Triangles-squares-stars

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Can you recreate these designs? What are the basic units? What movement is required between each unit? Some elegant use of procedures will help - variables not essential.

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Rectangle Outline Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Each of the main diagonals of this sudoku must contain the numbers 1 to 9 and each rectangle width the numbers 1 to 4.

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Magic Caterpillars

Stage: 4 and 5 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3 Challenge Level:3

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

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Seasonal Twin Sudokus

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

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

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Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

The clues for this Sudoku are the product of the numbers in adjacent squares.

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Ratio Sudoku 1

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

A Sudoku with clues as ratios.

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Teddy Town

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

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?

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Wallpaper Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

A Sudoku that uses transformations as supporting clues.

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Integrated Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

This Sudoku puzzle can be solved with the help of small clue-numbers on the border lines between pairs of neighbouring squares of the grid.

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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.

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Rainstorm Sudoku

Stage: 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:1

Use the clues about the shaded areas to help solve this sudoku

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Twin Corresponding Sudoku III

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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

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Where Can We Visit?

Stage: 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?

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Olympic Logic

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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

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First Connect Three for Two

Stage: 2 and 3 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

First Connect Three game for an adult and child. Use the dice numbers and either addition or subtraction to get three numbers in a straight line.

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LCM Sudoku II

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

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

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Star Product Sudoku

Stage: 3 and 4 Challenge Level: Challenge Level:2 Challenge Level:2

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.