Most people have a morbid fear of math story problems and, to a lesser extent, fractions. They see words on a math test and their brains shut down because its like, words. Where there’s supposed to be numbers. Very conflicting.
But I’m here to tell you those words are all smoke and mirrors. The diabolical people who create math story problems add unnecessary details and numbers to trick and mislead you. Read on and we’ll tell you everything you need to know to master math story problems.
Take this math story problem for example. Focus more on the numbers and fractions and less on the story and try to figure out if the sons received too many cows as part of their inheritance, not enough cows, or just the right number:
A Cow Math Mystery
A man had 17 cows.
His will stated:
- The first son is to receive 1/2 of the cows,
- The second son gets 1/3 of the cows,
- The third son gets 1/9 of the cows.
With an odd number of cows the sons did not know how to divide them up equally without turning them into hamburger first. So a neighbor volunteered to help and loaned them one of his cows which brought the cow count up to 18, an even number divisible by 2, 3 and 9.
So the oldest son took home 9 cows.
The second oldest son took home 6 cows.
And the youngest son took home 2 cows.
Then they returned the neighbor’s cow.
What the what! How did that work?
Think about it for a minute and try to solve the cow math mystery yourself.
Then click here to go to the answer.