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Broad Topics > Patterns and Sequences > Sequences

Ordered Sums

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Let a(n) be the number of ways of expressing the integer n as an ordered sum of 1's and 2's. Let b(n) be the number of ways of expressing n as an ordered sum of integers greater than 1. (i) Calculate. . . .

Pocket Money

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Which of these pocket money systems would you rather have?

Three Frogs

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Three frogs started jumping randomly over any adjacent frog. Is it possible for them to finish up in the same order they started?

Dalmatians

Age 14 to 18 Challenge Level:

Investigate the sequences obtained by starting with any positive 2 digit number (10a+b) and repeatedly using the rule 10a+b maps to 10b-a to get the next number in the sequence.

Sixational

Age 14 to 18 Challenge Level:

The nth term of a sequence is given by the formula n^3 + 11n . Find the first four terms of the sequence given by this formula and the first term of the sequence which is bigger than one million. . . .

Farey Sequences

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

There are lots of ideas to explore in these sequences of ordered fractions.

Triangles and Petals

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

An equilateral triangle rotates around regular polygons and produces an outline like a flower. What are the perimeters of the different flowers?

Sums of Powers - A Festive Story

Age 11 to 16

A story for students about adding powers of integers - with a festive twist.

Sissa's Reward

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Sissa cleverly asked the King for a reward that sounded quite modest but turned out to be rather large...

Big Powers

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Three people chose this as a favourite problem. It is the sort of problem that needs thinking time - but once the connection is made it gives access to many similar ideas.

Lower Bound

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =

Triangles Within Squares

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you find a rule which relates triangular numbers to square numbers?

Stretching Fractions

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Imagine a strip with a mark somewhere along it. Fold it in the middle so that the bottom reaches back to the top. Stetch it out to match the original length. Now where's the mark?

Series Sums

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Let S1 = 1 , S2 = 2 + 3, S3 = 4 + 5 + 6 ,........ Calculate S17.

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Powers of numbers behave in surprising ways. Take a look at some of these and try to explain why they are true.

Odd Differences

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

The diagram illustrates the formula: 1 + 3 + 5 + ... + (2n - 1) = n² Use the diagram to show that any odd number is the difference of two squares.

Loopy

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Investigate sequences given by $a_n = \frac{1+a_{n-1}}{a_{n-2}}$ for different choices of the first two terms. Make a conjecture about the behaviour of these sequences. Can you prove your conjecture?

Tiny Nines

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Find the decimal equivalents of the fractions one ninth, one ninety ninth, one nine hundred and ninety ninth etc. Explain the pattern you get and generalise.

Squaresearch

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Consider numbers of the form un = 1! + 2! + 3! +...+n!. How many such numbers are perfect squares?

More Pebbles

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

Have a go at this 3D extension to the Pebbles problem.

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

What is the total area of the first two triangles as a fraction of the original A4 rectangle? What is the total area of the first three triangles as a fraction of the original A4 rectangle? If. . . .

Summing Squares

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Discover a way to sum square numbers by building cuboids from small cubes. Can you picture how the sequence will grow?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?

Triangles Within Triangles

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you find a rule which connects consecutive triangular numbers?

Paving Paths

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

How many different ways can I lay 10 paving slabs, each 2 foot by 1 foot, to make a path 2 foot wide and 10 foot long from my back door into my garden, without cutting any of the paving slabs?

Odds, Evens and More Evens

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Alison, Bernard and Charlie have been exploring sequences of odd and even numbers, which raise some intriguing questions...

Generating Number Patterns: an Email Conversation

Age 7 to 16

This article for teachers describes the exchanges on an email talk list about ideas for an investigation which has the sum of the squares as its solution.

Triangles Within Pentagons

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Show that all pentagonal numbers are one third of a triangular number.

Changing Places

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Place a red counter in the top left corner of a 4x4 array, which is covered by 14 other smaller counters, leaving a gap in the bottom right hand corner (HOME). What is the smallest number of moves. . . .

Logoland - Sequences

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Make some intricate patterns in LOGO

Differs

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

Converging Means

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

Intersecting Circles

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Three circles have a maximum of six intersections with each other. What is the maximum number of intersections that a hundred circles could have?

Happy Numbers

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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.

Remainder

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

What is the remainder when 2^2002 is divided by 7? What happens with different powers of 2?

Maxagon

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

What's the greatest number of sides a polygon on a dotty grid could have?

Regular Hexagon Loops

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?

1 Step 2 Step

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Liam's house has a staircase with 12 steps. He can go down the steps one at a time or two at time. In how many different ways can Liam go down the 12 steps?

Pebbles

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

Place four pebbles on the sand in the form of a square. Keep adding as few pebbles as necessary to double the area. How many extra pebbles are added each time?

Seven Squares

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Watch these videos to see how Phoebe, Alice and Luke chose to draw 7 squares. How would they draw 100?

Towers

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

A tower of squares is built inside a right angled isosceles triangle. What fraction of the area of the triangle is covered by the squares?

A Little Light Thinking

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Here is a machine with four coloured lights. Can you make two lights switch on at once? Three lights? All four lights?

LOGO Challenge - Circles as Bugs

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Here are some circle bugs to try to replicate with some elegant programming, plus some sequences generated elegantly in LOGO.

LOGO Challenge - Sequences and Pentagrams

Age 11 to 18 Challenge Level:

Explore this how this program produces the sequences it does. What are you controlling when you change the values of the variables?

Designing Table Mats

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Formulate and investigate a simple mathematical model for the design of a table mat.

What an Odd Fact(or)

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you show that 1^99 + 2^99 + 3^99 + 4^99 + 5^99 is divisible by 5?

Clock Squares

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Square numbers can be represented on the seven-clock (representing these numbers modulo 7). This works like the days of the week.

Shifting Times Tables

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you find a way to identify times tables after they have been shifted up or down?

Triangular Triples

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Show that 8778, 10296 and 13530 are three triangular numbers and that they form a Pythagorean triple.