Media Re: “You’ve Got A Problem on Your Hands.”
posted by November 14 at 15:09 PMon
We’ve already established that Seattle Weekly’s Laura Onstot is not good at math. (She reversed the numbers at the secretary of state’s election site and concluded, contrary to all other media reports, that the simple majority for schools measure was losing when it was actually winning.) However, she apparently wants to make that really, really clear. In a post about how tough the WASL is (Annie, wanna weigh in here?) she posed this question as an example of a really hard math question:
Kent is using the scale to compare the weight of various solids.
How many spheres will balance one cube?
“Remember,” she notes, “you’re being timed.”
Now, I’m certainly not a fan of high-stakes standardized tests like the WASL, and I do think there should be different standards for ESL students and those with learning disabilities. But I’m a little shocked that 42 percent of high school kids didn’t answer that question correctly. I haven’t had any kind of math at all in more than a dozen years, but I figured it out pretty fast. It’s B, 3. I’ve buried the math below the jump.
Here's how I did it (I'm sure there's a much simpler way, but like I said, no math for a while). First, substitute letters for shapes. Cubes are x. triangles are y, and spheres are z. So the top scale can be represented like this:
Subtracting from either side (and eliminating some steps), you get:
Now go to the second scale. Take out one sphere on both sides (z) because they cancel out. So you have: x=4y+2z. Put in terms of just x and z (the cube and the spheres) it's like this:
So the correct answer is, three spheres (z) balance one cube (x).
Unless, of course, my math is totally off.