Resources tagged with: Mathematical modelling

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Broad Topics > Thinking Mathematically > Mathematical modelling


Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

A bus route has a total duration of 40 minutes. Every 10 minutes, two buses set out, one from each end. How many buses will one bus meet on its way from one end to the other end?

Crossing the Atlantic

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Every day at noon a boat leaves Le Havre for New York while another boat leaves New York for Le Havre. The ocean crossing takes seven days. How many boats will each boat cross during their journey?

Circuit Training

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Mike and Monisha meet at the race track, which is 400m round. Just to make a point, Mike runs anticlockwise whilst Monisha runs clockwise. Where will they meet on their way around and will they ever. . . .

In Constantly Passing

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

A car is travelling along a dual carriageway at constant speed. Every 3 minutes a bus passes going in the opposite direction, while every 6 minutes a bus passes the car travelling in the same. . . .

Konigsberg Plus

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

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.

Lap Times

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you find the lap times of the two cyclists travelling at constant speeds?

Spot the Card

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

It is possible to identify a particular card out of a pack of 15 with the use of some mathematical reasoning. What is this reasoning and can it be applied to other numbers of cards?


Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

At Holborn underground station there is a very long escalator. Two people are in a hurry and so climb the escalator as it is moving upwards, thus adding their speed to that of the moving steps. . . .

Bus Stop

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Two buses leave at the same time from two towns Shipton and Veston on the same long road, travelling towards each other. At each mile along the road are milestones. The buses' speeds are constant. . . .

Friday 13th

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you explain why every year must contain at least one Friday the thirteenth?

Chocolate 2010

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

First of all, pick the number of times a week that you would like to eat chocolate. Multiply this number by 2...


Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Can you cross each of the seven bridges that join the north and south of the river to the two islands, once and once only, without retracing your steps?

Flight of the Flibbins

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Blue Flibbins are so jealous of their red partners that they will not leave them on their own with any other bue Flibbin. What is the quickest way of getting the five pairs of Flibbins safely to. . . .

On Time

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

On a clock the three hands - the second, minute and hour hands - are on the same axis. How often in a 24 hour day will the second hand be parallel to either of the two other hands?

Rule of Three

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

If it takes four men one day to build a wall, how long does it take 60,000 men to build a similar wall?

Learning Mathematics Through Games Series: 4. from Strategy Games

Age 5 to 14

Basic strategy games are particularly suitable as starting points for investigations. Players instinctively try to discover a winning strategy, and usually the best way to do this is to analyse. . . .

The Legacy

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Your school has been left a million pounds in the will of an ex- pupil. What model of investment and spending would you use in order to ensure the best return on the money?

Concrete Calculation

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

The builders have dug a hole in the ground to be filled with concrete for the foundations of our garage. How many cubic metres of ready-mix concrete should the builders order to fill this hole to. . . .

Problem Solving, Using and Applying and Functional Mathematics

Age 5 to 18 Challenge Level:

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.

Quick Times

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

32 x 38 = 30 x 40 + 2 x 8; 34 x 36 = 30 x 40 + 4 x 6; 56 x 54 = 50 x 60 + 6 x 4; 73 x 77 = 70 x 80 + 3 x 7 Verify and generalise if possible.

Triathlon and Fitness

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

The triathlon is a physically gruelling challenge. Can you work out which athlete burnt the most calories?

Pattern of Islands

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

In how many distinct ways can six islands be joined by bridges so that each island can be reached from every other island...


Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

A ladder 3m long rests against a wall with one end a short distance from its base. Between the wall and the base of a ladder is a garden storage box 1m tall and 1m high. What is the maximum distance. . . .


Age 7 to 16 Challenge Level:

Fancy a game of cricket? Here is a mathematical version you can play indoors without breaking any windows.

Shaping the Universe I - Planet Earth

Age 11 to 16

This article explores ths history of theories about the shape of our planet. It is the first in a series of articles looking at the significance of geometric shapes in the history of astronomy.

Where to Land

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Chris is enjoying a swim but needs to get back for lunch. If she can swim at 3 m/s and run at 7m/sec, how far along the bank should she land in order to get back as quickly as possible?

Shaping the Universe II - the Solar System

Age 11 to 16

The second in a series of articles on visualising and modelling shapes in the history of astronomy.

Fixing the Odds

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

You have two bags, four red balls and four white balls. You must put all the balls in the bags although you are allowed to have one bag empty. How should you distribute the balls between the two. . . .

Tree Tops

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you make sense of information about trees in order to maximise the profits of a forestry company?

Stringing it Out

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Explore the transformations and comment on what you find.

Food Web

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Is this eco-system sustainable?

Troublesome Triangles

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

Many natural systems appear to be in equilibrium until suddenly a critical point is reached, setting up a mudslide or an avalanche or an earthquake. In this project, students will use a simple. . . .

Celtic Knotwork Patterns

Age 7 to 14

This article for pupils gives an introduction to Celtic knotwork patterns and a feel for how you can draw them.

Stemnrich - the Physical World

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

PhysNRICH is the area of the StemNRICH site devoted to the mathematics underlying the study of physics

Truth Tables and Electronic Circuits

Age 11 to 18

Investigate circuits and record your findings in this simple introduction to truth tables and logic.

Straw Scaffold

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Build a scaffold out of drinking-straws to support a cup of water

Bell Ringing

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Suppose you are a bellringer. Can you find the changes so that, starting and ending with a round, all the 24 possible permutations are rung once each and only once?

Football Crazy Hockey Mad

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

In a league of 5 football teams which play in a round robin tournament show that it is possible for all five teams to be league leaders.

Shaping the Universe III - to Infinity and Beyond

Age 11 to 16

The third installment in our series on the shape of astronomical systems, this article explores galaxies and the universe beyond our solar system.

Scratch Cards

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

To win on a scratch card you have to uncover three numbers that add up to more than fifteen. What is the probability of winning a prize?

Plaiting and Braiding

Age 7 to 14

This article for students gives some instructions about how to make some different braids.

Master Minding

Age 11 to 14 Challenge Level:

Your partner chooses two beads and places them side by side behind a screen. What is the minimum number of guesses you would need to be sure of guessing the two beads and their positions?

Elastic Maths

Age 14 to 18

How do you write a computer program that creates the illusion of stretching elastic bands between pegs of a Geoboard? The answer contains some surprising mathematics.

Witch's Hat

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

What shapes should Elly cut out to make a witch's hat? How can she make a taller hat?

Designing Table Mats

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Formulate and investigate a simple mathematical model for the design of a table mat.

Investigating Epidemics

Age 11 to 16 Challenge Level:

Simple models which help us to investigate how epidemics grow and die out.

Drawing Doodles and Naming Knots

Age 7 to 18

This article for students introduces the idea of naming knots using numbers. You'll need some paper and something to write with handy!

Guessing the Graph

Age 14 to 16 Challenge Level:

Can you suggest a curve to fit some experimental data? Can you work out where the data might have come from?

Observing the Sun and the Moon

Age 7 to 14 Challenge Level:

How does the time of dawn and dusk vary? What about the Moon, how does that change from night to night? Is the Sun always the same? Gather data to help you explore these questions.

Rocking Chairs, Railway Games and Rayboxes

Age 5 to 18

In this article for teachers, Alan Parr looks at ways that mathematics teaching and learning can start from the useful and interesting things can we do with the subject, including. . . .