Problem Solving Competition

Win a copy of Simon Singh's The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets and a £50 Amazon voucher!

The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets

Can you solve this vexing vexillology problem?

You are asked to make flags for an event. The attending nations are Nepal, Japan, Czech Republic, South Korea, Bahrain, Bangladesh, and the Philippines.

  • They must be mathematically accurate.
  • They must all be 1.2m in height. (You can ignore the blue border when calculating the height of the Nepalese flag.)
  • Each piece of a single colour must be a single piece of fabric (i.e. cannot be made of multiple pieces of fabric put together).

The fabric you use is on a roll of 2.4m wide. You notice you only have 2m left on the roll of RED material.

  1. What flags can you make to produce the least wasted material, and how much material is wasted?
  2. What length of additional material would you need to make the remaining flags?
  3. What is the smallest length of this fabric that would allow you to make all the flags of this size?

EnterOpens a new window


  • The prize is a copy of Simon Singh’s The Simpsons and their Mathematical Secrets and a £50 Amazon voucher.
  • You must be in Years 7 to 11 to enter.
  • You can download the questions hereOpens a new window.
  • If more than one correct entry is received then the winner will be drawn from a hat on the 29 April.
  • The winner will be notified via their teacher.
  • The school and winner will each receive a certificate.
  • You can download a helpsheet here.

To enter

  • Completed answer sheets should be received no later than 12:00PM on 26 April 2019.
  • Entries can be submitted by:
    1. completing the online formOpens a new window
    2. email from a teacher’s school email account to [email protected]
    3. post to: AMSP Problem Solving Competition, MEI office, Monckton House, White Horse Business Park, Trowbridge, BA14 0XG
  • Multiple entries can be submitted electronically from a teacher’s email account as long as it is clear which student has submitted each answer.
  • Please ensure your entry includes your clearly written name and school. If we can’t identify which school you attend we may not be able to contact you if you win.
  • Each student may only enter this competition once.
  • Students must be in school years 7 to 11 when the entry is submitted.

If you are struggling to find information on how to make the flags, Wikipedia can be a good place to start.