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Topic: Is this Common Core math question the worst math question in human history?
Replies: 16   Last Post: Dec 16, 2013 2:41 AM

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 Bart Goddard Posts: 1,706 Registered: 12/6/04
Re: Is this Common Core math question the worst math question in human history?
Posted: Dec 13, 2013 9:32 AM
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"christian.bau" <christian.bau@cbau.wanadoo.co.uk> wrote in
news:de33efe8-2e1f-4cff-a349-4cc865688179@googlegroups.com:

For the record, here's the statement:

"Juanita wants to give bags of stickers to her friends.
She wants to give the same number of stickers to each friend.
She's not sure if she needs 4 bags or 6 bags of stickers.
How many stickers could she buy so there are no stickers
left over?"

> Really a simple problem, combining maths with an understanding of the
> English language.
>
> She wants to give stickers to her friends - which means there are two
> or more friends.

Or zero friends. (<- note the plural.)

> She wants to give bags of stickers to them, and the
> same amount of stickers to each one. She doesn't know whether she
> should buy four or six bags.

No, she's not buying bags, she's buying stickers.

> The number of friends must be 1, 2 or 4 so that she can give the same
> amount to each friend if she buys four bags.
>
> The number of friends must be 1, 2, 3 or 6 so that she can give the
> same amount to each friend if she buys six bags.

Presumably she's giving one bag to each friend
(although this is a bit ambiguous, too)
so she is expecting either 4 or 6 friends to show
at the meeting. (I suppose that there's a set of
twins who have a habit of not RSVP-ing, but crashing
the party anyway.)

> If both buying 4 or 6 bags solves the problem

It doesn't, because she's buying stickers. The question
is asking for a multiple of lcm(4,6). So 0 or 12 or 24
would work. If I were a 3rd grader and answered 0 or
120 or -12, I'd be the smartest kid in the class and
I'd get an F in math and be sent to the principal's office.

It's a crappy question for children because there are
many right answers and because there is some ambiguities
in the statement of the problem. This is a symptom of
the blind rush to make math "relevent." Everything has
to be turned into a story problem, but not a sensible
story problem. If a story problem is not a real
application, then it should be a "delightful puzzle."
This particular problem is just a train wreck of
forced, reverse-engineered desparation. One might
lead a decent class discussion using this problem, but
if you put it on a test, you've committed a crime.
(Maybe you could put it on the test for an education
major and ask for an essay on why this problem sucks.
But otherwise, it and its entire family need to die.)

B.

Date Subject Author
12/13/13 Dr. Jai Maharaj
12/13/13 William Elliot
12/13/13 jane.playne
12/13/13 gnasher729
12/13/13 gnasher729
12/13/13 Pubkeybreaker
12/13/13 gnasher729
12/13/13 Pubkeybreaker
12/13/13 Pubkeybreaker
12/13/13 Bart Goddard
12/13/13 Bart Goddard
12/15/13 Doug Schwarz
12/16/13 JohnF
12/13/13 Bart Goddard
12/13/13 Kickin' Ass and Takin' Names
12/13/13 Peter Percival
12/13/13 Dr. Jai Maharaj

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