Triangular numbers can be represented by a triangular array of squares. What do you notice about the sum of identical triangle 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.
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.
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.
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
This task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges of these multiplication arithmagons?
A game for 2 players
Rectangles are considered different if they vary in size or have different locations. How many different rectangles can be drawn on a chessboard?
Can you find sets of sloping lines that enclose a square?
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.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Explore the area of families of parallelograms and triangles. Can you find rules to work out the areas?
Show that for any triangle it is always possible to construct 3 touching circles with centres at the vertices. Is it possible to construct touching circles centred at the vertices of any polygon?
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.
An article for teachers and pupils that encourages you to look at the mathematical properties of similar games.
Can you explain how this card trick works?
Do you notice anything about the solutions when you add and/or subtract consecutive negative numbers?
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 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?
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?
Charlie likes tablecloths that use as many colours as possible, but insists that his tablecloths have some symmetry. Can you work out how many colours he needs for different tablecloth designs?
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.
It would be nice to have a strategy for disentangling any tangled ropes...
Charlie and Abi put a counter on 42. They wondered if they could visit all the other numbers on their 1-100 board, moving the counter using just these two operations: x2 and -5. What do you think?
Delight your friends with this cunning trick! Can you explain how it works?
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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.
The opposite vertices of a square have coordinates (a,b) and (c,d). What are the coordinates of the other vertices?
Can you describe this route to infinity? Where will the arrows take you next?
Charlie and Alison have been drawing patterns on coordinate grids. Can you picture where the patterns lead?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
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?
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
Build gnomons that are related to the Fibonacci sequence and try to explain why this is possible.
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?
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
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?
How could Penny, Tom and Matthew work out how many chocolates there are in different sized boxes?
A counter is placed in the bottom right hand corner of a grid. You toss a coin and move the star according to the following rules: ... What is the probability that you end up in the top left-hand. . . .
The number of plants in Mr McGregor's magic potting shed increases overnight. He'd like to put the same number of plants in each of his gardens, planting one garden each day. How can he do it?
Can you work out how to win this game of Nim? Does it matter if you go first or second?
Investigate the different ways that fifteen schools could have given money in a charity fundraiser.
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.
Can you explain the strategy for winning this game with any target?
Is there an efficient way to work out how many factors a large number has?
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.