When you think of spies and secret agents, you probably wouldn’t think of mathematics. Some of the most famous code breakers in history have been mathematicians.

As I was going to St Ives, I met a man with seven wives. Every wife had seven sacks, every sack had seven cats, every cat had seven kittens. Kittens, cats, sacks and wives, how many were going to St. . . .

Calendars were one of the earliest calculating devices developed by civilizations. Find out about the Mayan calendar in this article.

Eight children enter the autumn cross-country race at school. How many possible ways could they come in at first, second and third places?

Follow the directions for circling numbers in the matrix. Add all the circled numbers together. Note your answer. Try again with a different starting number. What do you notice?

A brief article written for pupils about mathematical symbols.

At the beginning of the night three poker players; Alan, Bernie and Craig had money in the ratios 7 : 6 : 5. At the end of the night the ratio was 6 : 5 : 4. One of them won $1 200. What were the. . . .

Three dice are placed in a row. Find a way to turn each one so that the three numbers on top of the dice total the same as the three numbers on the front of the dice. Can you find all the ways to do. . . .

Can you go through this maze so that the numbers you pass add to exactly 100?

This article for the young and old talks about the origins of our number system and the important role zero has to play in it.

Here are three 'tricks' to amaze your friends. But the really clever trick is explaining to them why these 'tricks' are maths not magic. Like all good magicians, you should practice by trying. . . .

Class 2YP from Madras College was inspired by the problem in NRICH to work out in how many ways the number 1999 could be expressed as the sum of 3 odd numbers, and this is their solution.

Sanjay Joshi, age 17, The Perse Boys School, Cambridge followed up the Madrass College class 2YP article with more thoughts on the problem of the number of ways of expressing an integer as the sum. . . .

Which set of numbers that add to 10 have the largest product?

Read all about Pythagoras' mathematical discoveries in this article written for students.

There are some water lilies in a lake. The area that they cover doubles in size every day. After 17 days the whole lake is covered. How long did it take them to cover half the lake?

This article for pupils explores what makes numbers special or lucky, and looks at the numbers that are all around us every day.

Choose any three by three square of dates on a calendar page...

32 x 38 = 30 x 40 + 2 x 8; 34 x 36 = 30 x 40 + 4 x 6; 56 x 54 = 50 x 60 + 6 x 4; 73 x 77 = 70 x 80 + 3 x 7 Verify and generalise if possible.

There are two forms of counting on Vuvv - Zios count in base 3 and Zepts count in base 7. One day four of these creatures, two Zios and two Zepts, sat on the summit of a hill to count the legs of. . . .

Take any two positive numbers. Calculate the arithmetic and geometric means. Repeat the calculations to generate a sequence of arithmetic means and geometric means. Make a note of what happens to the. . . .

Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten. Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .

Watch this video to see how to roll the dice. Now it's your turn! What do you notice about the dice numbers you have recorded?

Ann thought of 5 numbers and told Bob all the sums that could be made by adding the numbers in pairs. The list of sums is 6, 7, 8, 8, 9, 9, 10,10, 11, 12. Help Bob to find out which numbers Ann was. . . .

Choose any 4 whole numbers and take the difference between consecutive numbers, ending with the difference between the first and the last numbers. What happens when you repeat this process over and. . . .

Explain why the arithmetic sequence 1, 14, 27, 40, ... contains many terms of the form 222...2 where only the digit 2 appears.

A bag contains 12 marbles. There are more red than green but green and blue together exceed the reds. The total of yellow and green marbles is more than the total of red and blue. How many of. . . .

Replace the letters with numbers to make the addition work out correctly. R E A D + T H I S = P A G E

Take any whole number between 1 and 999, add the squares of the digits to get a new number. Make some conjectures about what happens in general.

A combination mechanism for a safe comprises thirty-two tumblers numbered from one to thirty-two in such a way that the numbers in each wheel total 132... Could you open the safe?

Visitors to Earth from the distant planet of Zub-Zorna were amazed when they found out that when the digits in this multiplication were reversed, the answer was the same! Find a way to explain. . . .

Twice a week I go swimming and swim the same number of lengths of the pool each time. As I swim, I count the lengths I've done so far, and make it into a fraction of the whole number of lengths I. . . .

This article looks at how models support mathematical thinking about numbers and the number system

Think of two whole numbers under 10, and follow the steps. I can work out both your numbers very quickly. How?

Using the digits 1 to 9, the number 4396 can be written as the product of two numbers. Can you find the factors?

Surprise your friends with this magic square trick.