December 12, 2011

Story Problem

Pretend you need to build a road. You need 100,000 kilograms of powdered cement to do the job (the exact numbers aren't that important). Which option do you choose:

A. Order 10 trucks with 10,000 kilograms of cement each. Have the trucks dump the cement where you'll do the job.

B. Order 10 trucks with pallets. Each pallet will have 400 paper sacks of cement weighing 25 kilograms per bag. Have workers pass the bags one by one from the trucks and distribute them around the site. Once in place, have workers open the individual bags and pour the cement powder out of each bag. Make no plans to deal with either the dust or the thousands of heavy-duty paper bags.

So, which would you choose? There's no "correct" answer, but if you said, "Obviously, I'd choose A. What kind of numb nuts would choose option B?" then you're probably not in charge of building highways in Costa Rica. 

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AnnaLisa said...

Ha ha ha!

Sort of not related, but this problem reminds me of back when I taught Adult Basic Ed (a program for adult students not yet ready for GED courses). Math section one day, it suddenly became clear the man I was working with had no real concept of basic multiplication. He worked for the city's road maintenance department. So I asked him how he calculated how many, say, bricks to order when he was assigned to lay a cobblestone crosswalk so long by so wide. He looked at me like a was nuts. "Calculate? What's to calculate? You order a truck of bricks. And when you run out, you order another truck of bricks."

Sitzman said...

Wow, so I guess it's not just Costa Rica!

BTW, also not related, but you should check out Stephen King's "11/22/63," which also has a GED student as a major plot point.