September 9th, 2021

planet

Middle school math


Josie got this "find the area" problem that plagued our house. I'll let you all stare at it for a minute. You'll either get it right away, or you won't. She made the mistake of coming to me for help. She said that she didn't know how to figure up the area of the triangle up top because they didn't label the horizontal line. Marc had drawn that dashed pencil line to try and decompose it into more triangles — but that didn't help. 

Make this harder than it has to be.
Make this harder than it has to be.

My problem was that as soon as I looked at it, I saw 3-4-5 triangles. So I told Josie the horizontal line must be six, because I see an isosceles triangle on top and if they labeled one line 5, the triangle sides must be 5, and the most wonderful right triangle is the classic 3-4-5. My dad taught me about them building a fenced in compost pile in the back yard. We would have RIGHT ANGLES, dammit.

But Josie is only in the 6th grade and doesn't know about a squared plus b squared equals c squared yet... no trig. "The teacher will ask where I got the 3!" she said. 

"THE ANCIENT PYTHAGOREANS!" I said.

It was bothering me thought so I asked my mom, the teacher. She took one look at the problem and said "it's a rhombus. all the sides are 5."

Huh? That's impossible, there's no classic 2.5-4-5 triangle! She said I was making it too hard. I think the problem was making it too hard.

First, who the hell ever uses a rhombus, after the 6th grade?

Second, that dashed line straight up from the bottom of the rhombus would DEFINITELY hit the horizontal line at 3 in — not split the middle! Because even if we don't know about trig get we can't pretend it doesn't exist!

After not helping Josie at all and screwing up her homework, I later re-drew it and realized it could work if you just use the numbers as they're presented. 

There I fixed it
There I fixed it

And then everything was okay. It just can't look like an isosceles triangle. You can't have straight lines up the side. 

Tell me it's not just me, right? Didn't everybody look at that and yearn for trigonometry? God's own math? 

I usually don't screw with my kid so much, I support teachers and curriculum. But that problem drove me crazy. 

Oh and Mom also asked me...

Why was the math teacher late for school?

Because she got on the Rhom-bus.