Mom Posts Daughter’s ‘Unfair’ Grade 3 Math Problem, It Has Baffled the Internet

June 28, 2019 Updated: June 28, 2019

A Mississippi mother took issue with a math problem from her third-grade daughter’s homework that seems to ask for more than a third-grader can answer. It also left some on the internet stumped when it was posted on Reddit. Is this a fair question for Grade 3?

A few years back in 2017, Dusty Sappington, of Terry, Mississippi, posted the following math problem of her 8-year-old daughter Izzy’s homework on Reddit. The mom wasn’t sure what to make of it. It read: “Janell had 15 marbles. She lost some of them. How many does Janell have now?”

This 3rd Grade math problem…can you solve it?"My name is Dusty Sappington and I'm the mother of two (3rd Grader,…

Love What Matters စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၇၊ နိုဝင်ဘာ ၂၊ ကြာသပတေးနေ့

Sappington’s daughter  Izzy has dyslexia and attended third grade at a private school that offers traditional classes and specializes in learning disabilities. The question left the girl rightfully confused, answered with a question mark.

It is written plainly enough and is easy to understand, but what will be the answer? Doesn’t the problem require more information to be solved? That’s what Sappington thought. This bizarre riddle baffled many Reddit users as well. “Today I learned that I’d possibly score less than some 3rd graders on math homework. I used to be so confident and cocky,” one user wrote.

Can you work it out???

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However, some helpful netizens provided their answer right off the bat: “Well. It would have to be 15 – X, where 15 <= X >= 1,” one answered. “She can’t lose more than she started with, and losing something implies at least 1.”

“The answer is she has some marbles left,” another replied. One netizen simply wrote: “15 – x,”  while another opined: “<15.”

Can you figure it out?!

The Sun စာစုတင်ရာတွင် အသုံးပြုမှု ၂၀၁၇၊ နိုဝင်ဘာ ၄၊ စနေနေ့

But wasn’t this question a little bit “unfair” to ask a third-grader? “I don’t think that’s a fair 3rd grade question,” one commented.

Thus, others formulated an answer in a more kid-friendly way. “Less than 15,” one wrote. And some netizens saw the funny side of all this, providing a more lighthearted answer. “Janell lost her marbles,” one joked, to which Sappington responded: “Me too..”

So, what answer was the teacher expecting? Were her expectations unfair? Sappington consulted her about that and finally got it straightened out. “I spoke to her teacher today and found out the answer to her homework question was to ‘come up with her own answer.’ Her answer, the question mark, was not considered wrong,” she said.

Speaking to HuffPost, the mom said: “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.” She added: “Being the mother of a third-grader and a fifth-grader, 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.”

Well, this puzzling math problem was posed a lot like many of the questions life poses, and it’s up to us how we answer back, whether we consider them “fair” or “unfair.” Perhaps we all ought to just fret less about “unfair” expectations, suck it up and take it like a grownup!