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.
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. . . .
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
Can you tangle yourself up and reach any fraction?
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
Can you see how to build a harmonic triangle? Can you work out the next two rows?
What's the largest volume of box you can make from a square of paper?
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.
Use the animation to help you work out how many lines are needed to draw mystic roses of different sizes.
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...
A game for 2 players
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?
Some students have been working out the number of strands needed for different sizes of cable. Can you make sense of their solutions?
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.
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.
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.
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.
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Can you use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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.
What would you get if you continued this sequence of fraction sums? 1/2 + 2/1 = 2/3 + 3/2 = 3/4 + 4/3 =
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. . . .
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.
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?
I added together some of my neighbours' house numbers. Can you explain the patterns I noticed?
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.
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
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?
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?
Can you find an efficient method to work out how many handshakes there would be if hundreds of people met?
A collection of games on the NIM theme
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?
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?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?