A Math Question for Fifth Grader Will Have You ScratchYour Head

A Math Question for Fifth Grader Will Have You ScratchYour Head

On one occasion, though, a math question is posted online, and it really drives everyone insane trying to figure out the answer.

For some people, math was never their strong asset. Once they got past algebra, it was all kind of a blur for them. Still, it’s important that we learn the basics of it because we will always face a math question in a real-life situation.

This time, the impossible question comes from China, where a photo of the assignment was posted to social media site Weibo.

Math Question from China

The question appeared on an exam for fifth graders, and the translated version reads,

chinese math problem
“If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

Many people who tried to answer the question came up with some brilliant responses.

math answer

Others had other out-of-the-box answers.

“The captain is 36 because 26+10 is 36 and the captain wanted them to add up to his age.”

“The number of sheep and goats is irrelevant to the captain’s age.”

“The captain is 36 years old. He is quite narcissistic, so the number of animals corresponds to his age.”

“The captain’s age is… I don’t know. I can’t solve this.”

Some people are saying that the answer is impossible to get because there is insufficient information for the students to know the captain’s age.

math question insufficient data

Generally, Chinese education relies on repetition and drills, so this question aimed to teach students to think critically and differently.

The Shunqing Education Department said that the test was aimed to examine “critical awareness and an ability to think independently.”

They added that some surveys “show that ordinary primary school students in our country lack the sense of doubt and critical spirit in regard to mathematics.”

math question problem

If it’s being asked on the exam, it’s probably a topic from the class. While it may have puzzled some, it’s so important to learn how to think critically about the world around us.


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