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 task encourages you to investigate the number of edging pieces and panes in different sized windows.
Charlie has moved between countries and the average income of both has increased. How can this be so?
If you have a large supply of 3kg and 8kg weights, how many of each would you need for the average (mean) of the weights to be 6kg?
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?
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.
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.
Choose any 3 digits and make a 6 digit number by repeating the 3 digits in the same order (e.g. 594594). Explain why whatever digits you choose the number will always be divisible by 7, 11 and 13.
I added together some of my neighbours' house numbers. Can you explain the patterns I noticed?
The Tower of Hanoi is an ancient mathematical challenge. Working on the building blocks may help you to explain the patterns you notice.
Pick a square within a multiplication square and add the numbers on each diagonal. What do you notice?
Make some loops out of regular hexagons. What rules can you discover?
How many pairs of numbers can you find that add up to a multiple of 11? Do you notice anything interesting about your results?
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.
Can you find a general rule for finding the areas of equilateral triangles drawn on an isometric grid?
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.
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
When number pyramids have a sequence on the bottom layer, some interesting patterns emerge...
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.
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.
Try entering different sets of numbers in the number pyramids. How does the total at the top change?
Choose four consecutive whole numbers. Multiply the first and last numbers together. Multiply the middle pair together. What do you notice?
A game for 2 players
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.
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.
A collection of games on the NIM theme
Can you find the values at the vertices when you know the values on the edges?
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?
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?
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?
List any 3 numbers. It is always possible to find a subset of adjacent numbers that add up to a multiple of 3. Can you explain why and prove it?
A three digit number abc is always divisible by 7 when 2a+3b+c is divisible by 7. Why?
Can all unit fractions be written as the sum of two unit fractions?
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?
First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to eat chocolate. Multiply this number by 2...
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?
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.
Nim-7 game for an adult and child. Who will be the one to take the last counter?
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?
Got It game for an adult and child. How can you play so that you know you will always win?
Start with two numbers and generate a sequence where the next number is the mean of the last two numbers...
Imagine we have four bags containing numbers from a sequence. What numbers can we make now?
It starts quite simple but great opportunities for number discoveries and patterns!
Is there a relationship between the coordinates of the endpoints of a line and the number of grid squares it crosses?
Charlie has made a Magic V. Can you use his example to make some more? And how about Magic Ls, Ns and Ws?
Pick the number of times a week that you eat chocolate. This number must be more than one but less than ten. Multiply this number by 2. Add 5 (for Sunday). Multiply by 50... Can you explain why it. . . .
These gnomons appear to have more than a passing connection with the Fibonacci sequence. This problem ask you to investigate some of these connections.
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. . . .