Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Marina, a parent:

You are helping the coach tape lines on the gym floor to divide the length of the gym into 8 lanes of the same size. If it takes one minute to tape a line, how long will it take to do the job. State the strategy /strategies you used and why?


If it takes one minute to tape a line then the number of minutes to complete the job is the same as the number of lines. How many lines are there? Draw a diagram.


Marina wrote back

Thank you. What I did was get the number of lines for each-the coach and the other student. Then solve for the time needed to finish the job . There are 7 lines divide among the 2 then the time needed to do the job will be half of 7mins. The strategy identified is solving simpler problems. Is this correct?


The way the question was worded I don't think the teacher is looking for "the correct answer". I think she is looking for a reasonable interpretation of the problem, an explanation of the strategies used and a completion of the solution based the interpretation and strategies.

You decided that the two working together could tape a line in one minute. I assumed that each was working alone and could tape a line in a minute. Either I think is an acceptable interpretation but you should say what your assumption is. I also assumed that you need nine lines, two on the outside and seven between the lanes. You assumed you only need seven. Again, both valid assumptions but you need to point this out.

I don't see where you solved a simpler problem. In my mind the strategy is to draw a diagram and decide from it that there are seven or nine lines to tape, depending on the interpretation.

The point here is that I don't think there is a "correct answer". Given a problem you interpret it, decide on a strategy and solve the problem. The solution should contain the interpretation, strategy and a solution. Your child's interpretation and strategy may be different that either yours or mine.


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