Posts Tagged ‘Sherlock Holmes maths’

End-of-term GCSE activity: Sherlock Holmes mathematical mystery

July 12, 2011 17 comments

Looking for a fun and engaging way to fill an end-of-term lesson?  Download this free resource: 

"Sherlock Holmes and the Mystery of the Devil's Eye" - a mathematical adventure in six thrilling epsiodes. Click to download pdf - it's a 9MB file so may take a short while.

Set in modern day London, Sherlock Holmes has been called in by Scotland Yard to investigate the theft of the world’s largest ruby, the Devil’s Eye. Stolen from Harrods, the police have nothing to go on except a few mathematical clues.

Your students’ challenge is to solve the clues to help Holmes and Watson work out where they must go next.

We first published this story last Autumn as a competition in six episodes.  Due to their continuing popularity on this blog, we’ve assembled all the episodes into this single booklet.  All the clues are designed as AO2 or AO3 problem-solving questions, they all carry a GCSE grade, and the booklet is free for you to download.  Best of all, if you’re subscriber you can also get a… 

FREE Print copy for Subscribers

Leave a comment on this post and we’ll send one out to you!

Any UK-based Secondary Maths teacher can subscribe to this blog: enter your school email address in the box top right of the screen and we’ll post a free copy.  Subscription is free, you will not be spammed and we will not share your details with any third parties.


Here’s what you told us

Last month we conducted a survey of our subscribers to find out what you really think!  After 18 months of blogging, we were curious…

Q. If the blog stopped tomorrow, which of these statements would best describe your attitude? (Tick only one)


Well, that was a relief.  No-one ticked the “Happy – all the email updates annoy me” box.  We’ll do our best to keep it that way.  Thank you for your support.

Q. How long did you read the blog before you subscribed to it? (Tick only one)


This result took us by surprise.  We had no idea the decision to subscribe was taken so quickly.

Q. Before you started this survey, who did you think writes and produces the blog? (Tick all that apply)

This response made us smile.  We can say definitively that we are Longman, which is part of Pearson Education.  Either of those would have been correct, so a majority of you were on the right track.  We are not part of AQA and definitely not Nelson Thornes (greatly though we esteem those organisations)!

Q. If we were to cut down the types of activities we were going to provide on the blog to just four, which of the following types would you want to keep? (Tick four only)

Harder to read this slide, so here’s a summary: the most votes went to “GCSE new-style practice questions and papers”.  We hear you – we’ll keep them coming and make sure we offer all the support we can through the Summer exam season. 

Our topical resources came in as next most popular.  Collectively, there were 42 votes for our topical lesson plans and activities relating to:

  • “…major sporting events” – for example, our World Cup posters last year – 16 votes
  • “…major non-sporting events”, for example our General Election activity last year – 15 votes 
  • “…annual festivals, e.g. Christmas, Halloween, Bonfire Night”, for example our Sherlock Holmes competition last Autumn, episodes of which related to these festivals – 11 votes 

We’ll keep this stuff coming as far as time and tide allow.  For example, to mark the passing of the 500 day milestone and the availability of tickets for sale, we’ll shortly be publishing an Olympics poster.

There was also enthusiasm for the sample pages from our published resources, with 12 votes.  Again, we’ll keep these coming.  The least votes went to our video resources and news updates on AQA specifications and policy.

We asked you to tell us what other kinds of resources you would like to see.  Your answers centred around three types: (i) more exam questions/papers/feedback, (ii) more puzzles, (iii) interactives. 

We hear you.  We’ll do our best.

Q. What are your other sources of topical resources for use in school? (Tick all that apply)

Space doesn’t allow for all the questions, and we promised to keep all individual responses confidential.  But we do want to say a  big  T H A N K   Y O U  to everyone who took part.  Some of your additional feedback was very encouraging: you made especially kind comments about our Middle sets Student Book, about our Sherlock Holmes competition, and about our other free resources.  

Finally, some of you expressed concern that we might start charging for the content on the blog (we asked a few hypothetical question around this).  Don’t be, because we won’t.

With best wishes,

The Maths Team at Longman

Sherlock Holmes Christmas Maths Challenge: Episode 6 Solution

December 20, 2010 Leave a comment

Congratulations to the winners of the 6th and Final Episode of our Sherlock Holmes Maths Competition

Year 10 Set 1 from Canon Palmer School in Essex (Teacher: Ms R Gorschia)

They correctly worked out where Holmes and Watson must rush to defuse Moriarty’s devilish doomsday device…

"Hurry Watson - the weapon's about to fire!" Click to download PDF.


Here’s the full solution to all the clues in Episode 6:

Clue 1: David Boreanz (the actor on the top left of the newspaper clipping) plays the character “Angel” in Buffy the Vampire Slayer and spin-off series Angel.

Clue 2: The exhibition advertised is at the Laing Gallery, which is in Newcastle.  The artist mentioned, Anthony Gormley, is the artist who designed the Angel of the North.

Clue 3: The main news story refers to Carville Power Station being reopened.  Carville Power Station is in Wallsend, near Newcastle.  The article mentions the power station could provide 25 MW of power: more than the 18 MW required by Moriarty’s EMP in episode 5.

Clue 4: The special offers at the bottom of the newspaper advertised Dan Brown books.  Dan Brown wrote a book called “Angels and Demons”.  Also advertised was a signed Alan Shearer shirt.  Alan Shearer played most of his career at Newcastle United, and a large Alan Shearer shirt was famously draped across the Angel of the North soon after its construction.

Clue 5: Click here to find the full crossword solution.  The full solution provides the number 1201533365.  If you visit the you will find a picture of the Angel of the North.

Clue 6: The first entry in the lonely hearts column refers to looking in maths books for clues.  In Holmes’s case notes he mentions using the Longman AQA GCSE Mathematics Middle Sets book as a clue.  Each pair of numbers in the lonely hearts column refers to a word in this book.  The first number is a page number and the second number is a word number.  So for example the first word is the 13th word on page 242.  The six words spell out WEAPON IN HEAVENLY IMAGE IN GATESHEAD.  A reference to the location of the Angel of the North.

Clue 7: The third lonely hearts advert is from Moriarty!  He asks Holmes to include the code 26435 in his text message when responding.  If you enter these digits in to a text message with predictive text messaging on it will spell out the word ANGEL.

Clue 8: The fourth lonely hearts advert is for an “Outdoorsy Type”.  This advert refers to the Angel of the North, which is constructed from steel and is 12 years old.

Click here for the full solution to Episode 6 in Word format. 

We hope you’ve enjoyed this competition – many thanks for taking part, and have a wonderful Christmas and New Year!

Sherlock Holmes Christmas Challenge: Extension to deadline!

December 16, 2010 Leave a comment

We’re extending the deadline for entries to the 6th and Final Episode of our Sherlock Holmes Maths Competition to:

5pm on MONDAY, 20th DECEMBER

Click here to see all 6 Episodes and full details of the competition.  All Maths teachers are welcome to enter! 

The winning entry will unravel the mystery and solve/identify the most clues.   The prize is a Christmas hamper packed with good things – GOOD LUCK!


Christmas Maths Challenge – win a Christmas Hamper!

December 8, 2010 Leave a comment

MATHS TEACHERS – solve this Sherlock Holmes Christmas Maths Mystery and win a hamper packed with excellent things! 

Simply download the two PDF’s below, solve the clues, and send your answers to by 5pm on Monday 13th December:

"Where the Devil has he hidden it, Watson?" Help Holmes and Watson find Moriarty's doomsday weapon before it's too late! Click to download PDF.

Crucial hints from "The Examiner"? That's a first. Click to download PDF.

You’re taking part in the sixth and final episode of our Sherlock Holmes Maths competition.   The prize will go to the answer which solves/identifies the most clues.  All Maths teachers and Maths classes are welcome – MERRY CHRISTMAS!

EPISODE 6: Sherlock Holmes Maths Competition – the GRAND FINALE!

December 1, 2010 Leave a comment



The story so far… Called to investigate the disappearance from Harrods of the world’s largest ruby, the Devil’s Eye, Holmes and Watson follow a trail of clues around London.  Moving between some of London’s darkest corners and brightest attractions, it becomes clear that they’re caught up in something far bigger than a simple jewel heist…

It also becomes clear that their every move has been manipulated from the start.  At the end of Episode 5, they find themselves led, in a humbling figure-of-eight, back to the very spot from which they started: 221B BAKER STREET.  And who’s been yanking their chain?  Why, their old nemesis MORIARTY.  And what is the real crime that he’s planning?  To use the Devil’s Eye as the key component in building the world’s most powerful EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) weapon – an 18 Megawatt monster, capable of knocking out any electronic device in a 10 mile radius,  including aircraft guidance systems…  

Help Holmes and Watson locate the weapon before mayhem is unleashed:

"Where the Devil has he hidden it, Watson?" Help Holmes and Watson find the EMP weapon before it's too late. Click to download PDF.

And here a crucial newspaper cutting, in which you’ll find clues & hints:

Crucial hints from "The Examiner"? That's a first. Click to download PDF.




There are several clues concealed in these PDF’s: the WINNER will be the one who SPOTS/SOLVES the greatest number!


Remember: If you’re new to this competition, or haven’t participated in every Episode, it doesn’t matter!  Any Maths teacher is welcome to enter this Final Round, and can catch up with all the action on this dedicated page of our blog.

HINT: You may find having a copy of our AQA Middle Sets Student Book to hand helps prevent a lonely heart…

Sherlock Holmes Christmas Maths Challenge: Episode 5 Solution

November 30, 2010 Leave a comment

Many congratulations to the Episode 5 JOINT winners of our Sherlock Holmes Maths Competition:

Year 10 Set 1 and Year 9 Set 1 – both from Canon Palmer School in Essex –

for successfully working out that Holmes and Watson have been led in a figure-of-eight…

For the answer to where Holmes and Watson must go next is:

Turns out our friends have been dancing the Eightsome reel... to Moriarty's tune. Click to download updated map.



We’ll be sending the winners a FREE Class set of Longman’s unique 2010 AQA Functional Maths Student Book (30 copies) and a tin of Cadbury’s Heroes. 

DON’T MISS THE GRAND FINALE, Episode 6, to be published tomorrow (1st Dec.)

We now know WHO stole the Devil’s Eye Ruby: Moriarty.  And we know WHY he stole it: to build an EMP (Electro-Magnetic Pulse) weapon that could destroy all electronic devices within miles. 

BUT WHERE WILL HE USE IT, AND WHEN?  See if you can solve the clues in Episode 6 tomorrow, and help Holmes & Watson to foil Moriarty’s plot…

Meantime, here is the complete solution to Episode 5:

First part: The Science of deduction:
Working out the ratios
A=5  B=15  C=1  D=4  E=2  F=2  G=6  H=8  I=10  J=9   K=6
So there is J+F+G=17 MW going to Oxford Circus. So there is not enough power going to the trigger.

We then worked out the remaining time on the song was 2mins 21 sec and that Jerry Rafferty sang a song called Baker Street which brought them to the location: 221B Baker Street.