When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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.
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
A little bit of algebra explains this 'magic'. Ask a friend to pick 3 consecutive numbers and to tell you a multiple of 3. Then ask them to add the four numbers and multiply by 67, and to tell you. . . .
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. . . .
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of
adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain
why and prove it?
We can show that (x + 1)² = x² + 2x + 1 by considering
the area of an (x + 1) by (x + 1) square. Show in a similar way
that (x + 2)² = x² + 4x + 4
Many numbers can be expressed as the difference of two perfect squares. What do you notice about the numbers you CANNOT make?
An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.
You can work out the number someone else is thinking of as follows. Ask a friend to think of any natural number less than 100. Then ask them to tell you the remainders when this number is divided by. . . .
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on
each diagonal. What do you notice?
The sum of the numbers 4 and 1 [1/3] is the same as the product of 4 and 1 [1/3]; that is to say 4 + 1 [1/3] = 4 × 1 [1/3]. What other numbers have the sum equal to the product and can this be so for. . . .
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
Think of a number, add one, double it, take away 3, add the number
you first thought of, add 7, divide by 3 and take away the number
you first thought of. You should now be left with 2. How do I. . . .
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?
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle
numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the
Imagine starting with one yellow cube and covering it all over with
a single layer of red cubes, and then covering that cube with a
layer of blue cubes. How many red and blue cubes would you need?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled
The diagram illustrates the formula: 1 + 3 + 5 + ... + (2n - 1) = nĀ² Use the diagram to show that any odd number is the difference of two squares.
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.
Find some examples of pairs of numbers such that their sum is a
factor of their product. eg. 4 + 12 = 16 and 4 × 12 = 48 and
16 is a factor of 48.
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums?
1/2 + 2/1 =
2/3 + 3/2 =
3/4 + 4/3 =
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd
numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
Four bags contain a large number of 1s, 3s, 5s and 7s. Pick any ten numbers from the bags above so that their total is 37.
Imagine a large cube made from small red cubes being dropped into a
pot of yellow paint. How many of the small cubes will have yellow
paint on their faces?
Can you dissect a square into: 4, 7, 10, 13... other squares? 6, 9,
12, 15... other squares? 8, 11, 14... other squares?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there
are in different sized boxes?
An account of some magic squares and their properties and and how to construct them for yourself.
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes
there would be if hundreds of people met?
With one cut a piece of card 16 cm by 9 cm can be made into two pieces which can be rearranged to form a square 12 cm by 12 cm. Explain how this can be done.
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. . . .
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both
has increased. How can this be so?
In how many ways can you arrange three dice side by side on a
surface so that the sum of the numbers on each of the four faces
(top, bottom, front and back) is equal?
Jo made a cube from some smaller cubes, painted some of the faces
of the large cube, and then took it apart again. 45 small cubes had
no paint on them at all. How many small cubes did Jo use?
A package contains a set of resources designed to develop
pupils’ mathematical thinking. This package places a
particular emphasis on “generalising” and is designed
to meet the. . . .
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two parallel mirror lines.
What size square corners should be cut from a square piece of paper to make a box with the largest possible volume?
If you can copy a network without lifting your pen off the paper and without drawing any line twice, then it is traversable.
Decide which of these diagrams are traversable.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
Sets of integers like 3, 4, 5 are called Pythagorean Triples, because they could be the lengths of the sides of a right-angled triangle. Can you find any more?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?