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?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
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.
What would be the smallest number of moves needed to move a Knight from a chess set from one corner to the opposite corner of a 99 by 99 square board?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle numbers?
Square numbers can be represented as the sum of consecutive odd numbers. What is the sum of 1 + 3 + ..... + 149 + 151 + 153?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
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.
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
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?
How many moves does it take to swap over some red and blue frogs? Do you have a method?
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.
Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?
Can you explain how this card trick works?
A game for 2 players
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
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.
This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
To avoid losing think of another very well known game where the patterns of play are similar.
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
Imagine an infinitely large sheet of square dotty paper on which you can draw triangles of any size you wish (providing each vertex is on a dot). What areas is it/is it not possible to draw?
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?
Draw a square. A second square of the same size slides around the first always maintaining contact and keeping the same orientation. How far does the dot travel?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
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?
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
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.
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.
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
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?
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.
What are the areas of these triangles? What do you notice? Can you generalise to other "families" of triangles?
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 use the diagram to prove the AM-GM inequality?
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.
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. . . .
I added together some of my neighbours' house numbers. Can you explain the patterns I noticed?
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.
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.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
Choose a couple of the sequences. Try to picture how to make the next, and the next, and the next... Can you describe your reasoning?
It's easy to work out the areas of most squares that we meet, but what if they were tilted?
Explore the effect of reflecting in two intersecting mirror lines.