Friday Quiz, Take 3

This week's quiz question comes from Gene Gartner, a Madison, Va resident and a former high school math teacher. Before teaching, he spent 25 years in the business world.

Mr. Gartner wrote, "I am a big believer in that kids have to learn to solve problems not just know things by rote. After all, in the professional world you get paid to solve problems. You have to be able to think your way through with sometimes minimal information."

Here's a problem he created for his algebra students.

If you would like to submit a problem that you created or that you really like for the blog, please email me at Please include a little information about yourself and what you like about the question.

By Michael Alison Chandler  |  December 11, 2008; 9:00 AM ET  | Category:  Friday Quiz
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That's one heck of a problem. The math isn't particularly hard, but there's a bunch of it. Some assumptions:

1) You've got to have a fence post at each corner. So on the 150 ft sides, 150/12 = 12.5, so that's 13 divisions of 12 ft or less. That's 13 posts (since the fence forms a closed loop, the 14th post is the same as the first post on the next side).

2) Breaks in the fence material have to occur at a post. Where they do occur, they can be treated as continuous material for the purposes of counting attach hardware.

3) The gates include posts and the necessary attachments. Kind of like buying a door with a door frame. Otherwise, you need to know how the gate attaches to the posts.

4) The gates can be located wherever it's convenient. That way, you can put the 8 ft gate on one of the 150 ft sides that has that extra 6 ft, so you don't require an extra post.

In the real "real world", I'd make sure to include some extra material to account for mistakes in measuring and small stuff getting lost or broken.

Haven't gotten around to actually chugging through the math yet...

On a related note, in the real world, you also often have *too much* information. I don't remember working too many problems in school that made you think about what information you actually need. Even in engineering courses in college, that was the case, which is a shame.

Posted by: tomsing | December 12, 2008 11:55 AM | Report abuse

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