The Lockdown 2021 Challenge - Week 4

Lockdown is here again, and this time we are issuing a challenge to students in year 7, 8 or 9 at UK state schools. On Friday every week we will put up a new lockdown challenge, relating to a subject that you can study at university, and a question about studying at university. You will have until the following Friday to submit your answers to us. You can submit your answers using this online form. Please send any questions to us at (and don't worry if you have missed last week's challenge, which was a History question: you can access it here.)

Lockdown Challenge Week 4: Mathematics

Mathematicians are fascinated by numbers. In the course of a Maths degree you often need to be able to think outside of the original framing of a problem to find its solution. You need to be creative, and think carefully about patterns. But Maths can also tell us interesting things about the real world. We can use Mathematics to explain how a leopard gets its spots, to explore quantum theory of relativity, or to find out how stock markets work. Try the tricky Maths problem below...

Four friends need to cross a bridge. They start on the same side of the bridge. A maximum of two people can cross at any time. It is night and they have just one lamp. People that cross the bridge must carry the lamp to see the way. A pair must walk together at the rate of the slower person:

Rachel: - takes 1 minute to cross

Ben: - takes 2 minutes to cross

George: - takes 7 minutes to cross

Yvonne: - takes 10 minutes to cross

The second fastest solution gets the friends across in 21 minutes. The fastest takes 17 minutes.

Can you work out how it is done?


You can find out more about this problem here. If you have enjoyed trying to solve this problem, you might want to have a look at others via the University of Cambridge's website NRICH.


Thinking about university...

University isn't all about academic work. Students also take part in many clubs and societies, sometimes continuing interests, hobbies and activities they took part in when they were at school or college, and sometimes picking up something totally new. Clubs and societies at university are organisations that students join based around a shared interest. They can be based on sports, music, faith, drama, shared interests, volunteering - or any other kind of activity! Write down one interest you have now that you would like to continue to develop at university, and something totally new you think you might like to pick up. If you need some inspiration, you can have a look at this website about some of the clubs and societies at Oxford University.