Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
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?
Many numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers. For example, 15=7+8 and 10=1+2+3+4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed in this way?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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.
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?
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
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?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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. . . .
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
The NRICH team are always looking for new ways to engage teachers and pupils in problem solving. Here we explain the thinking behind maths trails.
Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the pattern continue?
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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
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.
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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.
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. . . .
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
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?
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...
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. . . .
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
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?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
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. . . .
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =
A game for two people, or play online. Given a target number, say 23, and a range of numbers to choose from, say 1-4, players take it in turns to add to the running total to hit their target.
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. . . .
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.
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.
A game for 2 players
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?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
A game for 2 players. Set out 16 counters in rows of 1,3,5 and 7. Players take turns to remove any number of counters from a row. The player left with the last counter looses.
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.
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.
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. . . .