Resources tagged with: Mathematical reasoning & proof

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Broad Topics > Mathematical Thinking > Mathematical reasoning & proof

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.

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?

More Number Pyramids

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...

Yih or Luk Tsut K'i or Three Men's Morris

Age 11 to 18 Challenge Level:

Some puzzles requiring no knowledge of knot theory, just a careful inspection of the patterns. A glimpse of the classification of knots and a little about prime knots, crossing numbers and. . . .

The Triangle Game

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you discover whether this is a fair game?

Disappearing Square

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Do you know how to find the area of a triangle? You can count the squares. What happens if we turn the triangle on end? Press the button and see. Try counting the number of units in the triangle now. . . .

Neighbourly Addition

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

I added together some of my neighbours' house numbers. Can you explain the patterns I noticed?

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?

Sprouts Explained

Age 7 to 18

This article invites you to get familiar with a strategic game called "sprouts". The game is simple enough for younger children to understand, and has also provided experienced mathematicians with. . . .

AMGM

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?

Sticky Numbers

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you arrange the numbers 1 to 17 in a row so that each adjacent pair adds up to a square number?

9 Weights

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

You have been given nine weights, one of which is slightly heavier than the rest. Can you work out which weight is heavier in just two weighings of the balance?

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. . . .

Tower of Hanoi

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.

Dicing with Numbers

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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?

Konigsberg Plus

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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.

Gift of Gems

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Four jewellers share their stock. Can you work out the relative values of their gems?

One O Five

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

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?

Flight of the Flibbins

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

Not Necessarily in That Order

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Baker, Cooper, Jones and Smith are four people whose occupations are teacher, welder, mechanic and programmer, but not necessarily in that order. What is each person’s occupation?

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.

Proof Sorter - Quadratic Equation

Age 14 to 18 Challenge Level:

This is an interactivity in which you have to sort the steps in the completion of the square into the correct order to prove the formula for the solutions of quadratic equations.

Königsberg

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?

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.

Convex Polygons

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Show that among the interior angles of a convex polygon there cannot be more than three acute angles.

Proofs with Pictures

Age 14 to 18

Some diagrammatic 'proofs' of algebraic identities and inequalities.

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?

Magic Squares II

Age 14 to 18

An article which gives an account of some properties of magic squares.

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.

Clocked

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Is it possible to rearrange the numbers 1,2......12 around a clock face in such a way that every two numbers in adjacent positions differ by any of 3, 4 or 5 hours?

Concrete Wheel

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

A huge wheel is rolling past your window. What do you see?

Picture Story

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you see how this picture illustrates the formula for the sum of the first six cube numbers?

Natural Sum

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

The picture illustrates the sum 1 + 2 + 3 + 4 = (4 x 5)/2. Prove the general formula for the sum of the first n natural numbers and the formula for the sum of the cubes of the first n natural. . . .

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?

DOTS Division

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Take any pair of two digit numbers x=ab and y=cd where, without loss of generality, ab > cd . Form two 4 digit numbers r=abcd and s=cdab and calculate: {r^2 - s^2} /{x^2 - y^2}.

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?

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.

How Many Dice?

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

A standard die has the numbers 1, 2 and 3 are opposite 6, 5 and 4 respectively so that opposite faces add to 7? If you make standard dice by writing 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 on blank cubes you will find. . . .

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?

Advent Calendar 2011 - Secondary

Age 11 to 18 Challenge Level:

Advent Calendar 2011 - a mathematical activity for each day during the run-up to Christmas.

A Long Time at the Till

Age 14 to 18 Challenge Level:

Try to solve this very difficult problem and then study our two suggested solutions. How would you use your knowledge to try to solve variants on the original problem?

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?

Always the Same

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Arrange the numbers 1 to 16 into a 4 by 4 array. Choose a number. Cross out the numbers on the same row and column. Repeat this process. Add up you four numbers. Why do they always add up to 34?

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?

Breaking the Equation ' Empirical Argument = Proof '

Age 7 to 18

This article stems from research on the teaching of proof and offers guidance on how to move learners from focussing on experimental arguments to mathematical arguments and deductive reasoning.

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?

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. . . .

Mindreader

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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. . . .

Marbles

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

I start with a red, a green and a blue marble. I can trade any of my marbles for two others, one of each colour. Can I end up with five more blue marbles than red after a number of such trades?