Stolen Truck Problem

September 13, 2012 at 9:30 am 5 comments

Pickup TruckMarilyn Burns is the founder of Math Solutions and the author of ten books for children. She uses exceptional problems to promote reasoning and sense making.

I have often heard that, “Good teachers borrow, great teachers steal.” So today, I am stealing one of Marilyn’s most famous problems. The problem recently appeared in our house — as I was preparing dinner one night last week, my sons were getting rowdy, and I needed a diversion. It’s incredibly wonderful to me that I can get them to settle down by saying, “Hey, wanna solve a math puzzle?” I gave them a modified version of Marilyn Burns’ horse problem, and talking about it kept them occupied for 20 minutes, which was just enough time for me to prepare a chicken and vegetable stir fry.

You can read the problem and submit your answer via the form below. Several solutions to the problem, as well as an analysis of all submitted solutions, will be posted on September 20 at Stolen Truck Solution.

If the form does not appear below, you can read the problem and enter your answer on this form. (Please don’t post your answer in the Comments, though.)

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Career Changes I’m a Pig!

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Zelda Block  |  September 13, 2012 at 10:28 am

    It is very disconcerting to discover that my 5-year-old grandsons are probably smarter at math problems than their well educated grandmother. Thank goodness they inherited their math skills from their father and mother rather than their grandmother.

    • 2. venneblock  |  September 13, 2012 at 11:39 am

      Nature vs. nurture… hard to say if they inherited their math skills, or if it’s just because I’m such a geek that we do mathy stuff every day. And not to worry if you didn’t get the answer. In the Marilyn Burns’ video, quite a few of the adults had trouble with this problem. That’s part of the reason I’m doing this, to see how many people get it right.

      As for your grandsons, they got a wrong answer, too. When I told them it was wrong, they figured out their mistake and then got it right.

  • […] He’s taking a poll: I have often heard that, “Good teachers borrow, great teachers steal.” So today, I am stealing one of Marilyn Burns’s most famous problems. She takes this problem to the streets, and various adults give lots of different answers. When I’ve used it in workshops, even among a mathy crowd, I get lots of different answers, too. […]

  • 4. Kimberlie Klare  |  September 17, 2012 at 11:13 am

    I love these types of problems!!

    • 5. venneblock  |  September 17, 2012 at 12:25 pm

      And I love people who love these types of problems! Glad I could spread some joy.


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About MJ4MF

The Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks blog is an online extension to the book Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks. The blog contains jokes submitted by readers, new jokes discovered by the author, details about speaking appearances and workshops, and other random bits of information that might be interesting to the strange folks who like math jokes.

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Math Jokes 4 Mathy Folks is available from Amazon, Borders, Barnes & Noble, NCTM, Robert D. Reed Publishers, and other purveyors of exceptional literature.

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