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Broad Topics > Using, Applying and Reasoning about Mathematics > Mathematical reasoning & proof

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What Numbers Can We Make?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?

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Elevenses

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?

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Mod 3

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Prove that if a^2+b^2 is a multiple of 3 then both a and b are multiples of 3.

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N000ughty Thoughts

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

How many noughts are at the end of these giant numbers?

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What Numbers Can We Make Now?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?

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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. . . .

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Even So

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Find some triples of whole numbers a, b and c such that a^2 + b^2 + c^2 is a multiple of 4. Is it necessarily the case that a, b and c must all be even? If so, can you explain why?

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Power Mad!

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.

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Take Three from Five

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Caroline and James pick sets of five numbers. Charlie chooses three of them that add together to make a multiple of three. Can they stop him?

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Why 24?

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Take any prime number greater than 3 , square it and subtract one. Working on the building blocks will help you to explain what is special about your results.

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A Biggy

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Find the smallest positive integer N such that N/2 is a perfect cube, N/3 is a perfect fifth power and N/5 is a perfect seventh power.

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Adding All Nine

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Make a set of numbers that use all the digits from 1 to 9, once and once only. Add them up. The result is divisible by 9. Add each of the digits in the new number. What is their sum? Now try some. . . .

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Unit Interval

Age 14 to 18 Challenge Level:

Take any two numbers between 0 and 1. Prove that the sum of the numbers is always less than one plus their product?

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Volume of a Pyramid and a Cone

Age 11 to 14

These formulae are often quoted, but rarely proved. In this article, we derive the formulae for the volumes of a square-based pyramid and a cone, using relatively simple mathematical concepts.

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Eleven

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Replace each letter with a digit to make this addition correct.

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To Prove or Not to Prove

Age 14 to 18

A serious but easily readable discussion of proof in mathematics with some amusing stories and some interesting examples.

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Cross-country Race

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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

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Perfectly Square

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

The sums of the squares of three related numbers is also a perfect square - can you explain why?

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Go Forth and Generalise

Age 11 to 14

Spotting patterns can be an important first step - explaining why it is appropriate to generalise is the next step, and often the most interesting and important.

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Con Tricks

Age 11 to 14

Here are some examples of 'cons', and see if you can figure out where the trick is.

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Logic

Age 7 to 14

What does logic mean to us and is that different to mathematical logic? We will explore these questions in this article.

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The Genie in the Jar

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

This jar used to hold perfumed oil. It contained enough oil to fill granid silver bottles. Each bottle held enough to fill ozvik golden goblets and each goblet held enough to fill vaswik crystal. . . .

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More Mathematical Mysteries

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Write down a three-digit number Change the order of the digits to get a different number Find the difference between the two three digit numbers Follow the rest of the instructions then try. . . .

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Thirty Nine, Seventy Five

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

We have exactly 100 coins. There are five different values of coins. We have decided to buy a piece of computer software for 39.75. We have the correct money, not a penny more, not a penny less! Can. . . .

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Unit Fractions

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Consider the equation 1/a + 1/b + 1/c = 1 where a, b and c are natural numbers and 0 < a < b < c. Prove that there is only one set of values which satisfy this equation.

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Logic, Truth Tables and Switching Circuits Challenge

Age 11 to 18

Learn about the link between logical arguments and electronic circuits. Investigate the logical connectives by making and testing your own circuits and fill in the blanks in truth tables to record. . . .

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Impossible Sandwiches

Age 11 to 18

In this 7-sandwich: 7 1 3 1 6 4 3 5 7 2 4 6 2 5 there are 7 numbers between the 7s, 6 between the 6s etc. The article shows which values of n can make n-sandwiches and which cannot.

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Ratty

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

If you know the sizes of the angles marked with coloured dots in this diagram which angles can you find by calculation?

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Picturing Pythagorean Triples

Age 14 to 18

This article discusses how every Pythagorean triple (a, b, c) can be illustrated by a square and an L shape within another square. You are invited to find some triples for yourself.

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Pythagorean Triples I

Age 11 to 16

The first of two articles on Pythagorean Triples which asks how many right angled triangles can you find with the lengths of each side exactly a whole number measurement. Try it!

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Common Divisor

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Find the largest integer which divides every member of the following sequence: 1^5-1, 2^5-2, 3^5-3, ... n^5-n.

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Number Rules - OK

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you convince me of each of the following: If a square number is multiplied by a square number the product is ALWAYS a square number...

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Cycle It

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Carry out cyclic permutations of nine digit numbers containing the digits from 1 to 9 (until you get back to the first number). Prove that whatever number you choose, they will add to the same total.

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Janine's Conjecture

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Janine noticed, while studying some cube numbers, that if you take three consecutive whole numbers and multiply them together and then add the middle number of the three, you get the middle number. . . .

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Some Circuits in Graph or Network Theory

Age 14 to 18

Eulerian and Hamiltonian circuits are defined with some simple examples and a couple of puzzles to illustrate Hamiltonian circuits.

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Paradoxes

Age 7 to 14

A paradox is a statement that seems to be both untrue and true at the same time. This article looks at a few examples and challenges you to investigate them for yourself.

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Children at Large

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

There are four children in a family, two girls, Kate and Sally, and two boys, Tom and Ben. How old are the children?

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For What?

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Prove that if the integer n is divisible by 4 then it can be written as the difference of two squares.

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Is it Magic or Is it Maths?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

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Tri-colour

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Six points are arranged in space so that no three are collinear. How many line segments can be formed by joining the points in pairs?

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Truth Tables and Electronic Circuits

Age 11 to 18

Investigate circuits and record your findings in this simple introduction to truth tables and logic.

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The Great Weights Puzzle

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

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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Symmetric Tangles

Age 14 to 16

The tangles created by the twists and turns of the Conway rope trick are surprisingly symmetrical. Here's why!

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More Marbles

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

I start with a red, a blue, a green and a yellow marble. I can trade any of my marbles for three others, one of each colour. Can I end up with exactly two marbles of each colour?

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No Right Angle Here

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Prove that the internal angle bisectors of a triangle will never be perpendicular to each other.

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Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Age 5 to 18 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.

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More Number Sandwiches

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

When is it impossible to make number sandwiches?

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Pyramids

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

What are the missing numbers in the pyramids?

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Multiplication Square

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

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Greetings

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

From a group of any 4 students in a class of 30, each has exchanged Christmas cards with the other three. Show that some students have exchanged cards with all the other students in the class. How. . . .