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Internet Stumped by Second-Grader’s Homework Question


What better way to celebrate National Puzzle Day than with one of the toughest elementary-school math questions you’ll ever read?

Helping your kids with their math homework shouldn’t be all that hard, considering the work was designed for children and you’re a grown adult. But when Angie Werner opened her second grade daughter’s backpack, she found a math problem that left her truly puzzled. In hopes of finding the right answer, Werner posted a photo of the math problem in the private Facebook group Breastfeeding Mama Talk — and the members there only confirmed Werner’s opinion: Her daughter’s homework was absurdly difficult.


(Photo Credit: Giphy)

The confusing problem reads: “There are 49 dogs signed up to compete in the dog show. There are 36 more small dogs than large dogs signed up to compete. How many small dogs are signed up to compete?” People are totally, completely torn on what the correct solution is.

One of the most popular answers is “36,” though not everyone is completely confident with that number: “Wouldn’t [it] be 49 dogs – 36 small dogs? That make 13 large dogs. So 13 large dogs + 36 small dogs = 49 dogs together. So the answer is 36. It’s a trick question lol, right?” one Facebook user wrote.

Others suggested that the answer is “42.5,” but that answer seems impossible considering we’re talking about dogs. You can’t have one-half a dog. “49-36=13. 13/2=6.5. 36+6.5=42.5. That’s how I did it in my head. Is that the right way to do it? Lol, I haven’t done math like this since I was in school!” another mom added.

Following an outrageously long debate, one woman noted that a previous commenter had it right: “Y’all. A mom above figured it out. We were all wrong. If there is a total of 49 dogs and 36 of them are small dogs then there are 13 large dogs. That means 36 small dogs subtracted by 13 large dogs then there are 23 more small dogs than large dogs. 36-13=23. BOOM!!! WOW! Anyone saying there’s half and medium dogs tho just no!”

Our verdict? Well, after an informal office poll (and plenty of arguing), we’ve decided that 42.5 small dogs is the most mathematically correct answer — which clearly makes no sense at all, and leads us to believe that the original homework question contains a typo. Unfortunately, Werner’s daughter Ayla had a substitute teacher the next day, so we may never know what the right answer is. How frustrating!

Ready for another head scratcher? How did someone come up with the bizarre but totally hilarious Japanese game shows in the video below?

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