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

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.

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.

Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?

15 = 7 + 8 and 10 = 1 + 2 + 3 + 4. Can you say which numbers can be expressed as the sum of two or more consecutive integers?

Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?

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?

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

Take a look at the multiplication square. The first eleven triangle numbers have been identified. Can you see a pattern? Does the pattern continue?

A game for 2 players with similarities to NIM. Place one counter on each spot on the games board. Players take it is turns to remove 1 or 2 adjacent counters. The winner picks up the last counter.

Start with any number of counters in any number of piles. 2 players take it in turns to remove any number of counters from a single pile. The loser is the player who takes the last counter.

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. . . .

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.

To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.

Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?

An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.

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.

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.

Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?

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.

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.

Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?

Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?

It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!

Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?

Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?

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?

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.

These gnomons appear to have more than a passing connection with the Fibonacci sequence. This problem ask you to investigate some of these connections.

Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?

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.

Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?

Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?

This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.

Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?

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

Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?

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. . . .

What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?

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 would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =

How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?

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?

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.

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?

Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?

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.