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Word Problems Require Weird Solutions

, , , , , , | Learning | August 18, 2021

I am a private tutor. I have given my fourth-grade student the following question: “Buses need to be rented for twenty-seven children going on a field trip. Each bus can take twelve children in addition to the driver. How many buses must be rented?”

Student: “I say two buses.”

The answer is supposed to be three.

Me: “How did you get two?”

Student: “Because it’s too expensive otherwise.”

Me: “Wait, what?”

Student: “Otherwise, you’d get three buses, but the third bus is only going to have three kids in it. That’s a waste of a bus.”

I burst out laughing. My student is giggling as well now.

Student: Or, how about two buses, and we’ll strap some chairs at the top so the other three kids can sit up there.”

Me: *Recovering* “That doesn’t seem very safe!”

Student: “Right. So it’s only for the bad ones. The naughty kids have to sit on the top of the bus while the good kids can sit inside. It’s cheaper and better for everyone!”

We drew a model of her bus prototype after she completed all the word problems. I love this kid.