I got carried away with the polls and made us a little five-question math quiz. It’s all anonymous – none of us will know anybody else’s answers unless you tell us in the comments. (And feel free to do so, but please don’t look up the answers before answering the questions, okay? I’ll post all the answers in a day or two.)

TAGS:

“Doubling daily, it takes a patch of lily pads 48 days to cover an entire lake. How long does it take for the lily pads to cover half the lake?”

The question is frustrating. Define “patch.” How large is it on day 1? Anyway, I’m inclined to say 47, having worked it out thus: if patch doubles daily, then on day 47 it must be lake/2 — half the lake. But as far as I know, patches of lily pads don’t grow backwards. This is kind of like applying math where it is not the right tool.

“If a ball and bat together cost $1.10 and the bat costs $1.00 more than the ball, how much does the ball cost?”

This one tripped me up because of an ambiguity in the expression “more than”. I read that to mean “in addition to”, which leads to the answer 10 cents. But that left me wondering why this was even a question, so I returned to it. And if you read it–less casually–as “one dollar more expensive than the ball” you get the answer 5 cents.

Doing your little quiz this morning made me smile. Math makes me happy.

um that was kinda fun. but if I read tomorrow that I got them all wrong I’ll retract that sentiment

For one brief mad time in my life, I wanted to go to college to become a math teacher. Just couldn’t organize the time or the money. (If I had the time, I wouldn’t have the money, and if I had the money, I wouldn’t have the time…)

Thanks for the fun little quiz!

I hate math and after the first question I got hopelessly lost and muddled. I’m not even sure that I got the first answer right because deep in my heart I know that nothing pleases a math person more than to create a seemingly simple question that people like me always get wrong. Then they gleefully squeal, “NO, the answer, pi squared!! Don’t you get it?”

I enjoyed it but it was more of a test of logic rather than math skills.

Agree with gramps; this wasn’t about math at all. I hate trick questions.

For instance, my wife is always asking me to stop smoking crack. Today she asked me twice more than she did yesterday; how many times will she ask me tomorrow?

I liked that…where are the answers?

Okay, here are the answers:

1) This one’s subjective; there’s no wrong answer. I was just curious. 40% of those who answered said they like math and they’re good at it. (This was higher than I expected.)

2) 19 (almost everyone got this one right). There was no trick to it, I just wanted to get everybody nice and relaxed before they tackled the tricky bat and ball question.

3) The ball cost five cents. (60% of us got this one wrong. It’s a simple question but people seem to instinctively go for 10 cents on this one – and because it seems so simple, we tend not to double-check the answer.)

4. Widgets – 5 minutes. About two-thirds of us got this one right.

5. Lily pads: 47 days. Again, about two-thirds of us got this right.

Now I’m curious about some of the comments. Gramps and Andrew don’t think these are math questions. I still think they are!

Andrew – that looks like a trick question to me, but I can’t figure out the trick. Tell me!

Everybody – thanks for playing!

Zoom!: I agree with Gramps and Andrew: except for #1 and #2, they’re logic questions. The math required is just simple four-function arithmetic required to follow through to one’s answer.

Question #2 is a mathematical expression so there is little confusion of type.

Questions #3-5 are problems that can be analyzed and represented as expressions to be solved (mathematically). For example.

Q#3: If you let x represent the cost of the ball, then the cost of the bat is (x+$1.00). The total cost of bat and ball is given as $1.10. It follows, $1.10=x+(x+$1.00). Solving for x gives 5 cents… simple algebra (mathematical) problem. Q#4 and 5 can be analyzed similarly and assigned mathematical expressions.

My conclusion: these are mathematical questions.

I am with Skylark on the “what is math” issue. Being good at math is mostly about learning simple things, remembering those simple things and then applying them in the right places.

Never mind ‘math’ questions – I’m having an English problem – here it the UK it’s MathS (as in Mathematics questions, not Mathematic questions).

Anyway – thanks Zoom – that brightened my otherwise dull afternoon.