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.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
A country has decided to have just two different coins, 3z and 5z coins. Which totals can be made? Is there a largest total that cannot be made? How do you know?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns 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.
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.
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. . . .
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.
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
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?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Consider all two digit numbers (10, 11, . . . ,99). In writing down all these numbers, which digits occur least often, and which occur most often ? What about three digit numbers, four digit numbers. . . .
Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =
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?
What is the ratio of the area of a square inscribed in a semicircle to the area of the square inscribed in the entire circle?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?
Triangle ABC is an equilateral triangle with three parallel lines going through the vertices. Calculate the length of the sides of the triangle if the perpendicular distances between the parallel. . . .
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.
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. . . .
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
Euler discussed whether or not it was possible to stroll around Koenigsberg crossing each of its seven bridges exactly once. Experiment with different numbers of islands and bridges.
Imagine we have four bags containing a large number of 1s, 4s, 7s and 10s. What numbers can we make?
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?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
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?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
The Egyptians expressed all fractions as the sum of different unit fractions. Here is a chance to explore how they could have written different fractions.
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but what if they were tilted?
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?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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?
Imagine you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights. How many of each weight would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg? What other averages could you have?
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
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3 digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
Polygons drawn on square dotty paper have dots on their perimeter (p) and often internal (i) ones as well. Find a relationship between p, i and the area of the polygons.
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?
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.