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This 3rd Grade Math Problem Is Stumping The Internet - Can You Solve It?
Can you solve this problem? It's a lot trickier than it sounds!
Kalli Sarkin
12.04.17

Your homework was hard while you were in school, but have you ever tried revisiting it? Helping your children with their homework can be every bit as challenging as it was the first time. Wait until you see this third grade math question! You’ll never guess how impossible it is.

Dusty Sappington was helping her 8-year-old daughter, Izzy, with her math homework when she came across an extremely tricky question. Given the vague wording, Dusty was absolutely perplexed as to what the answer could be.

Reddit
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Reddit

The question stated: “Janell had 15 marbles. She lost some of them. How many does Janell have now?”

This was a strange question, and the homework did not come with any additional information or multiple choice. Dusty was convinced there must have been a mistake. Izzy was also confused by the question. The best answer she could come up with was one big question mark. Many of us feel the same way.

Dusty was amused at this bizarre homework question, so she took it to Reddit “mainly for amusement.” The post was accompanied by the caption, “If someone can answer this correctly, my child will be done with her homework!” Reddit users had some creative ideas about what the correct answer could be.

Reddit
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Reddit

Commenters were quick to mention that they didn’t “think [it was] a fair third grade question.” Even a term like “<15” is above a third grade math level. The world wondered what this teacher was thinking.

Reddit
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Reddit

Other commenters approached the question with comedy. One man reminded the group that this homework set was “basic grade 3 stuff,” solving the question simply with an equation that I still don’t understand.

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Reddit

Only one thing was certain: the correct answer could not possibly be an individual number. Everything else was up in the air. Reddit users even scrutinized the word “some”, pointing out that Janell must have lost more than one marble.

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Reddit

By far the BEST answer was “Janell lost her marbles.” A little comedy goes a long way. I’m sure if Izzy went with that answer, her teacher would get a kick out of it!

Reddit
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Reddit

“I haven’t found out the answer,” Dusty admitted to the Huffington Post, “but [I] hope to see her graded paper soon. To be honest, I’m unsure if it was printed in error or was a question to test her knowledge of less than and greater than, which she has touched on in the past.”

Dusty handled the confusion with good humor. “Being the mother of a third grader and a fifth grader,” she said,” I have seen a lot of homework over the years that has our family laughing at the absurdities, scratching our heads and relying too much on Google . . . I hope this adds more fuel to the fire to better fund our educational systems.”

Izzy is lucky to have a wonderful mom like Dusty. It is heartwarming to see a parent who is invested in her child’s homework, education, and future.

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By Kalli Sarkin
hi@sbly.com
Kalli Sarkin is a contributing writer at Shareably. Kalli is based in Los Angeles and can be reached at hi@shareably.net.
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