Can You Solve This Fourth Grade Math Question? Most Are Scratching Their Heads
While the years are far behind us, we’d like to think that we retained enough of what we learned that if a fourth-grader came to us for help with their homework, we’d have no problem helping them find the answer. Well if you’re confident in your abilities, you might want to rethink that. A simple fourth-grade math question has gone viral and has become a brain teaser instead.
People are divided on the answer and are passionately debating the solution. In fact, a video explaining the answer has gathered almost 20 million views! Do you think you’ve got what it takes? Let’s find out!
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No One Can Seem To Work It Out
It turns out math is not as simple and constant as it seems. You would think that math would be one of few guaranteed things in life, as the answer of an equation would always turn out the same. Well, it looks like nothing is constant in life, so we might as well remain adaptable and in a state of flow.
People cannot get their heads around the equation. There has to be one answer though right? Let’s get our heads together and get to the bottom of it.
Here Is The Equation
Okay take a minute to try and solve this yourself first, once you have an answer, come back to compare your results. if you get it you should be pretty proud of yourself.
Those who shared their answers seem to be divided between “9” and “1.” It seems that the reason for the discrepancy in these different answers comes down to the order they complete the different steps of the equation. This is also known as the order of operations. In order to properly solve the equation and get to the correct answer, it must be calculated in the right order. If you think back to your school days, there is a standard abbreviation to help remember the order of operations known as PEMDAS.
Let’s Get Things In Order
If you’ve forgotten what The “PEDMAS” order of operations stands for, let’s go for a quick refresher. PEDMAS stands for parentheses, exponents, multiplication, and division (left to right), and finally addition and subtraction (left to right) Some kids learn the order with the famous mnemonic “Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.”
Now that we have the order mind, we should be able to solve the problem. First, we would need to tackle what’s inside the parentheses: (1+2) = 3. Okay, that’s the easy part. That leaves us with the new equation: 6÷2(3)=?
Next, since there are no exponents, let’s go to the divisions and multiplication. It should be: 6÷2 is 3, and 3(3) is 9. That should be the right answer and it is supported by Presh Talwalker in Mind Your Decisions, “This is without argument the correct answer of how to evaluate this expression according to current usage.”
How Come So Many Think The Answer Is “1′?
While we’re pretty certain the answer is 9, many continue to argue that it is actually “1.” It seems that they have confused the priority order in PEDMAS. Not only do the parenthesis come first then are followed by multiplication and division, but the equation must also be solved from left to right. Many seem to have forgotten that order.
The other problem that Talwalker highlights is that about a century ago, kids might have been taught I the ÷ symbol means that “you should divide by the entire product on the right of the symbol.” That is actually not correct in our time. Those who went by this old way would have solved the equation like this: 6÷2(3) would be 6÷(2(3)). And 6÷6=1.
It Could Be The Way It Is Written
People on Twitter are arguing that it’s no one’s fault that the answers are all over the place and the real problem might actually be the way that the equation is written: “The problem is inherently ambiguous and there’s no convention that produces a definitive answer,” writes a Twitter user. “It needs to be rephrased as (6÷2)(1+2) OR 6÷(2(1+2)) or there’s no right answer.”So maybe we can all take that as a little bit of reassurance that we’re not just losing our intellect over time. However, the brain is like any muscle, so it wouldn’t hurt to go and solve some math equations just to work it out every once in a while!
Is It Brains Or Personality?
If you’re mostly analytical and methodical in your thinking and love to solve math equations like this, then you’re said to be left-brained. But If you tend to be more creative or artistic, and would rather be doing pretty much anything other than Math, you’re thought to be right-brained. This theory is based on the fact that the brain’s two hemispheres function differently and has a lot to do with personality.
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Higher Perspectives Author is one of the authors writing for Higher Perspectives