Today’s homework comes courtesy of Angie Werner, who shared a question from her daughter’s second grade math assignment. People on social media argued over the correct answer — and whether this wasn’t a tad dark for grade school.
Here’s the word problem:
“There are 49 dogs signed up to compete in the dog show. There are 36 more small dogs than large dogs signed up to compete. How many small dogs are signed up to compete?”
The most common (wrong) answers
Since nobody online is getting graded on this assignment, many people didn’t think it through and came up with an answer like this: “49-36=13. Isn’t it 13?” It is not.
Others misread the problem and thought it was a trick question, and the answer was simply 36 small dogs.
Read the question again. There are 36 MORE small dogs than large dogs.
The (physically impossible) right answer
If you subtract the 36 additional small dogs from the 49 total dogs, you get 13. Divide that by 2 to get the remaining small dogs and large dogs. Add 6.5 additional small dogs to the other 36, and you get 42.5 small dogs and 6.5 large dogs, for a total of 49.
One woman on Facebook explained her method like this: “49-36=13. 13/2=6.5. 36+6.5=42.5. That’s how I did it in my head. Is that the right way to do it? I haven’t done math like this since I was in school!”
The answer 42.5 is mathematically correct, but I don’t want to think about halving a small dog. POPSUGAR followed up with Werner, who received an explanation from the school district: “The district worded it wrong. The answer would be 42.5, though, if done at an age appropriate grade.”
Only 50% of people at Harvard and MIT correctly answered this word problem. Can you solve it?