Fantastic math word problems

Here's a weird/funny/fantastic math problem...

But it also kind of highlights the word problems we often see in math books - like some have noted, it's only in math classes that trains travel towards each other on the same track, or someone buys 61 watermelons for himself, or people paint houses at identical speeds all day long, etc. All kinds of unrealistic situations.

But, being a curriculum author myself, I know it's hard to make problems that would always perfectly relate to real life. In real life things (such as speed) vary a lot and are not constant, and such situations can be totally beyond students' ability to handle mathematically.

So we first learn to handle the simple, though unrealistic, situations, such as everything traveling at a constant speed, and then from that, we can advance to calculus and learn the math for the real situation where the speed is changing all the time.

That said, of course it's good to relate math to real life when we can, and to try to avoid silly unrealistic contexts. BUT, don't be afraid to use fantastic (unrealistic) world problems also - sometimes that is just plain necessary to practice the concept and students should understand that. In fact, you can even ask THEM to make some "idealistic" problems to solve. :)


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