Pancake Day

Level 1 Level 2 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5 Instructions More Puzzles


Drag this handle to use the spatula to toss the pancakes.

Toss the pancakes until they are neatly stacked in order of size with the largest at the bottom. Drag the spatula between two pancakes to toss all of the pancakes above the spatula.

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This is Pancake Day level 2. You can also try:
Level 1 Level 3 Level 4 Level 5

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Mathematicians are not the people who find Maths easy; they are the people who enjoy how mystifying, puzzling and hard it is. Are you a mathematician?

Comment recorded on the 24 May 'Starter of the Day' page by Ruth Seward, Hagley Park Sports College:

"Find the starters wonderful; students enjoy them and often want to use the idea generated by the starter in other parts of the lesson. Keep up the good work"

Comment recorded on the 14 September 'Starter of the Day' page by Trish Bailey, Kingstone School:

"This is a great memory aid which could be used for formulae or key facts etc - in any subject area. The PICTURE is such an aid to remembering where each number or group of numbers is - my pupils love it!

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Secondary National Strategy, Mathematics at key stage 3

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Monday, September 17, 2018

"The topic of pancake numbers is the subject of the only well-known mathematics paper by Microsoft founder Bill Gates (as William Gates). The paper was titled Bounds for Sorting by Prefix Reversal and was published in 1979. It describes an efficient algorithm for pancake sorting."

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Spatula Spatula Spatula

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The objective is to stack all of the pancakes in order with the largest at the bottom and the smallest at the top. To do this drag the spatula down the page then insert it carefully between any two pancakes or below the bottom pancake. When you release your mouse button all of the pancakes above the spatula will be tossed, which in this case means they will be turned over so their order will be reversed. Continue the process until you have the ordered stack.

Level 1 - The 4 pancake puzzle.

Level 2 - The 5 pancake puzzle.

Level 3 - The 6 pancake puzzle.

Level 4 - The 7 pancake puzzle.

Level 5 - The 8 pancake puzzle.

Extension activity: Work out the smallest number of tosses required to order a stack of pancakes regardless of how much they are initially mixed up.

More Puzzles including lesson Starters, visual aids, investigations and self-marking exercises.

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Read more about Pancake Numbers in the excellent book Casebook of Mathematical Mysteries by Professor Ian Stewart

Prof Stewart's book