Saturday, January 05, 2013

Internet-based Therapy for Math Haters

Never did well in math? Did the word problems generate feelings of anxiety? Here's a new way to look at these humorless little conundrums from your past. I recommend you don't immediately read the answers. Instead, let yourself wallow in that old familiar feeling of "word problem dread" and then read on, and enjoy the catharsis.

Now, picture your 10-year-old self at a school desk, #2 pencil in hand, staring at the clock. And remember, this is for your final grade. Begin.

1) Donald has a synthetic rope 26.3 meters in length. He wishes to cut the synthetic rope into 3 pieces of equal length. What will be the length of each piece?

Answer: Donald hangs himself.

Nancy plans a two-day hike from Blood Gulch to Donald's Demise by way of the Northern Trail. It is 7.9 miles from Blood Gulch to the Northern Trail and 9.8 miles from there to Donald's Demise. If she plans to travel half the total distance on each day, how far will she hike the first day?

Answer: Nancy dies of exposure.

Pencils down, everyone!

Who are Donald and Nancy? What is the nature of their relationship? I have no idea. These were written on June 18th, 1994, and let's be honest: who remembers anything from that long ago? If you're mathematically gifted and compelled to provide the real answers to these word problems, you may post them in comments, but no one's going to laugh.