Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Susan, a parent:

Fred paddled for 4 hours with a 7 km/hr current to reach a campsite. The return trip against the same current took 9 hr. Find the speed of Fred's canoe in still water. (Remember to include correct units)


The important fact here is that rate is distance divided by time. Suppose rate (speed) that Fred can paddle his canoe in still water is F km/hr. Paddling with the current his speed is then (F + 7) km/hr and paddling against the current his speed is (F - 7) km/hr. The distance is the same in each direction so see if you can use the fact that rate is distance divided by time to construct an equation you can solve for F.

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