The second in a series of articles on visualising and modelling shapes in the history of astronomy.

This article explores ths history of theories about the shape of our planet. It is the first in a series of articles looking at the significance of geometric shapes in the history of astronomy.

What 3D shapes occur in nature. How efficiently can you pack these shapes together?

Can you visualise whether these nets fold up into 3D shapes? Watch the videos each time to see if you were correct.

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.

A visualisation problem in which you search for vectors which sum to zero from a jumble of arrows. Will your eyes be quicker than algebra?

Mike and Monisha meet at the race track, which is 400m round. Just to make a point, Mike runs anticlockwise whilst Monisha runs clockwise. Where will they meet on their way around and will they ever. . . .

Which of the following cubes can be made from these nets?

Can you recreate these designs? What are the basic units? What movement is required between each unit? Some elegant use of procedures will help - variables not essential.

Bilbo goes on an adventure, before arriving back home. Using the information given about his journey, can you work out where Bilbo lives?

A cube is made from smaller cubes, 5 by 5 by 5, then some of those cubes are removed. Can you make the specified shapes, and what is the most and least number of cubes required ?

Given the nets of 4 cubes with the faces coloured in 4 colours, build a tower so that on each vertical wall no colour is repeated, that is all 4 colours appear.

A square of area 3 square units cannot be drawn on a 2D grid so that each of its vertices have integer coordinates, but can it be drawn on a 3D grid? Investigate squares that can be drawn.

The reader is invited to investigate changes (or permutations) in the ringing of church bells, illustrated by braid diagrams showing the order in which the bells are rung.

Two boats travel up and down a lake. Can you picture where they will cross if you know how fast each boat is travelling?

Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.

This task depends on groups working collaboratively, discussing and reasoning to agree a final product.

A circular plate rolls in contact with the sides of a rectangular tray. How much of its circumference comes into contact with the sides of the tray when it rolls around one circuit?

This article outlines the underlying axioms of spherical geometry giving a simple proof that the sum of the angles of a triangle on the surface of a unit sphere is equal to pi plus the area of the. . . .

Imagine a stack of numbered cards with one on top. Discard the top, put the next card to the bottom and repeat continuously. Can you predict the last card?

Find the point whose sum of distances from the vertices (corners) of a given triangle is a minimum.

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 ribbon runs around a box so that it makes a complete loop with two parallel pieces of ribbon on the top. How long will the ribbon be?

How can visual patterns be used to prove sums of series?

Can you use small coloured cubes to make a 3 by 3 by 3 cube so that each face of the bigger cube contains one of each colour?

A 10x10x10 cube is made from 27 2x2 cubes with corridors between them. Find the shortest route from one corner to the opposite corner.

Blue Flibbins are so jealous of their red partners that they will not leave them on their own with any other bue Flibbin. What is the quickest way of getting the five pairs of Flibbins safely to. . . .

The image in this problem is part of a piece of equipment found in the playground of a school. How would you describe it to someone over the phone?

The triangle OMN has vertices on the axes with whole number co-ordinates. How many points with whole number coordinates are there on the hypotenuse MN?

At the time of writing the hour and minute hands of my clock are at right angles. How long will it be before they are at right angles again?

This is a simple version of an ancient game played all over the world. It is also called Mancala. What tactics will increase your chances of winning?

Some treasure has been hidden in a three-dimensional grid! Can you work out a strategy to find it as efficiently as possible?

There are 27 small cubes in a 3 x 3 x 3 cube, 54 faces being visible at any one time. Is it possible to reorganise these cubes so that by dipping the large cube into a pot of paint three times you. . . .

An irregular tetrahedron has two opposite sides the same length a and the line joining their midpoints is perpendicular to these two edges and is of length b. What is the volume of the tetrahedron?

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. . . .

The aim of the game is to slide the green square from the top right hand corner to the bottom left hand corner in the least number of moves.

This is an interactive net of a Rubik's cube. Twists of the 3D cube become mixes of the squares on the 2D net. Have a play and see how many scrambles you can undo!

A bus route has a total duration of 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes, two buses set out, one from each end. How many buses will one bus meet on its way from one end to the other end?

Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.

See if you can anticipate successive 'generations' of the two animals shown here.

This is the first article in a series which aim to provide some insight into the way spatial thinking develops in children, and draw on a range of reported research. The focus of this article is the. . . .

I found these clocks in the Arts Centre at the University of Warwick intriguing - do they really need four clocks and what times would be ambiguous with only two or three of them?

What's the largest volume of box you can make from a square of paper?

What can you see? What do you notice? What questions can you ask?

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

Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?