Thursday, April 1, 2010

"Reasonable" Math Problems

As I mentioned the other day, we have dived in headfirst to the "tough stuff" of the 3rd grade curriculum. Word problems, 2-step problems, and now, "Reasonable" problems. It's pretty ironic, but even with 4 years of high school math under my belt, 3 ½ years of college math and engineering, and 2 years of graduate school math and engineering, I had NEVER come across this type of math problem in my life until I started teaching 3rd grade.

Here's a typical problem:

Mr. Sutton buys 4 tools at the hardware store. The least expensive tool is $10, and the most expensive tool is $20. What is a reasonable total for all 4 tools?

In my opinion, Mr. Sutton should look at his receipt and find the exact prices of each tool and add them, or at least round them and add. This lowest and highest deal is silly. Yet teach it we must.

Oh, and there's also a second kind of reasonable question.

Suzy the Squirrel can bury 3 to 5 nuts every day. How many days will it take her to bury 40 nuts?

Nevermind the fact that I always have to stop and deal with giggle fits every year when we do this problem in class (the kids giggle, too. NUTS!), but I think this kind is more difficult than the first because it requires something beyond just adding to find a total.

Speaking of unreasonableness, I have been working on getting my honeymoon booked. My fiancé and I have decided upon Turks and Caicos (mostly just because it is incredibly fun to say), and a 5 night stay at an all-inclusive resort there. However, the airfare is redonkulous!! Almost 700 bucks per person! Of course, if it was some of my kids charging me airfare, it wouldn't be so bad, because 2 people at 700 dollars each would only be 702 dollars. Possibly even 698 dollars. However, in the real world, it's so much more than that.

Ideally, my book would win the Amazon Breakthrough Novel Contest and the $15,000 prize that goes along with it. Realistically, though, that's probably not going to happen. Any chance everyone could encourage their friends and neighbors to buy a couple of copies of Learn Me Good? On the Kindle even?

Coach K has already come through and delivered on my request. Somehow I doubt he's going to come to the wedding, but at least he gave me my early present.

Is it still "reasonable" to think that Duke can win it all?