Wednesday, April 15, 2020

The Poorly Worded Math Question

This homeschooling/remote learning thing is kind of getting to me.

My son is now in remote learning mode, which means I have to go over all of his work to make sure he's done it.  He's in fifth grade, but his class is doing sixth grade math.  They are using Big Ideas Math.

He recently had this question on his homework.

This is the last problem on the page.  The previous problems are all straight calculations   (of which he got 3 wrong)

He came up with 96, by figuring the surface area of each triangular side.

(6*5)/2 =15 

There are 4 sides so he multiplied by 4 to get 60.

He then added the bottom rectangle. 


For a total of 96.


I thought clearly this was a trap question because it says the TOP of the lantern.  Therefore the answer should be 60, because the bottom is not part of the top of the lantern.  I was captain of the math team in high school and varsity all three years, state champions all three years, and this is just the kind of gotcha moment that math teachers and tests love.

I wanted him to redo the question- and the other three problems he got wrong.  (And to top it off, despite my admonitions, he didn't show his work)

He insisted that he was right, and bet me that if it was, he wouldn't have to redo it or the other three problems.

I took the bet, confident that I was correct.

I looked up the answer online and it lists the answer as 96.


Am I crazy?  (Don't answer that!)  

This can't possibly be right.  The bottom is not part of the top.


 I don't want to be a math teacher unless I get to write the problems.

Come on COVID-19.  Go away!

So l lost this bet.  But am I wrong? Based on the question, shouldn't the answer be 60?

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