Math CentralQuandaries & Queries


Question from Francine, a teacher:

How can I get the number 26 using 1,2,3,4,&5 and using addition, subtraction, multiplication and division. Each operator and digit must be used exactly once. My son presented me this question and I can't determine if it's even possible.

Hi Francine,

There is a very possible solution to this number puzzle, there may even be more than one. If you randomly choose number and operation combinations it can take a long time to figure it out but if you think a little about number relationships, it makes it easier. I won't give you the solution but I can give you some hints on how to find it:

- you can only divide by either 1 or 2 (or any expressions that result in 1 or 2)

- most likely have to multiply by the larger numbers like 4 or 5

- remember you can use brackets ex. 6x(9+(27/3))= 6x(9+9)=6x(81)=486

- it is helpful to think of what numbers do you need to multiply together to get close to 26. When I solved the puzzle, I tried to find the different ways I could multiply to 21, 24, 25 and 27

Good luck solving the puzzle!


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