Maths PhD can't solve this question for seven year olds – so can YOU?

Are they training them for NASA? Desperate mum begs for help with her seven-year-old’s confusing maths homework (and even a woman with a PHD can’t understand it!)

  • Teresa Hopper shared a photo of her seven-year-old’s question sheet to the Facebook group Family Lockdown Tips and Tricks where she asked for help 
  • Tricky maths question asked to divide counters evenly into three digit numbers 
  • Many adults were left scratching their head for the answer, with even a woman with a maths PhD struggling to understand

A woman with a PhD in maths was left scratching her head after a desperate mum asked for help with her seven-year-old’s tricky maths homework.  

Teresa Hopper from Norfolk shared a photo of her seven-year-old’s question sheet to the Facebook group Family Lockdown Tips and Tricks where she asked for help. 

The odd question left dozens of parents scratching their heads, due to the unusual wording of the problem. 

Teresa Hopper from Norfolk shared a photo of her seven-year-old’s question sheet to the Facebook group Family Lockdown Tips and Tricks where she asked for help

Taking to Facebook, Teresa wrote:  ‘I hate homework. Please help!

‘Is the answer to a) & b) the same or am I missing something?!’

QUESTION

Karla says: “I have three hundreds counters, 17 tens counters and 16 ones counters”

‘a) Can she make two equal three-digit numbers? If so, draw the counters to show them.

‘ b) Can she make two equal three-digit numbers if she had to use all her counters? If so, draw the counters to show them.’

ANSWER:

 a) Yes. There are several correct solutions for a, as there are many different three digit answers between 100 and 243 Karla can create with equal counters.

For example, she could make a hundred counter twice, a hundred counter and a one counter twice, and so on.

b) Yes. Karla’s counters make a total of 486. We can see this by adding them up:

3 x 100 = 300

17 x 10 = 170

16 + 1 = 16

300 + 170 + 1 = 486.

From here, you can divide 486 by 2 to get 243.

This can be made twice by adding  

i) Two hundred counters, four ten counters and three one counters

ii) One hundred counter, 13 ten counters, and 13 one counters 

One woman shared a helpful drawing on how to solve the tricky question on the thread that left many baffled

Teresa added a picture of the homework which read: ‘Karla says: “I have three hundreds counters, 17 tens counters and 16 ones counters”

‘a) Can she make two equal three-digit numbers? If so, draw the counters to show them.

‘ b) Can she make two equal three-digit numbers if she had to use all her counters? If so, draw the counters to show them.’

Teresa (pictured) later confirmed she solved the problem but it took her ‘ages to get the gist’ and even the teacher marked it correct

While it initially seems straight forward, many people were left scratching their heads, with one person asking: ‘My school work wasn’t that hard what they training them for Nasa?!

While it initially seems straight forward, many people were left scratching their heads, with one person asking: ‘My school work wasn’t that hard what they training them for Nasa?!  

Another woman added: ‘I have a PhD in maths, and I have no idea what this question is asking.

‘Unless there’s a diagram to go with it, or more explanation somewhere else.’

A third asked: ‘How old is this homework meant for? Clearly not for a 40 year old woman, I’m lost. 

Teresa later confirmed she solved the problem but it took her ‘ages to get the gist’.

Her son’s teacher marked the answer – yes for both – correct.

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