The Fifth-Grade Math Problem No One Can Figure Out

No calculator can help you solve this doozy.

Math problems on graph paper with pencilR. MACKAY PHOTOGRAPHY, LLC/Shutterstock

Kids these days spend a lot of time making crafts at school and eating pizza in the cafeteria. But believe it or not, they are also tackling some complicated math problems. Take, for example, this tricky third-grade math problem that has stumped the Internet. And if you solve this equation on the first try, you might be a genius—or a numbers nerd, at the very least.

Nothing beats this perplexing riddle posed by a school in China, though. The question, found on a fifth-grade exam, asks: “If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats onboard, how old is the ship’s captain?”

Nope, it’s not a trick question. The test’s purpose was to examine “critical awareness and an ability to think independently,” according to a statement by the Shunqing Education Department in China.

Regardless, the problem understandably stumped the young Chinese students. Some gave up right away, while others devised a creative response or two—not unlike these funny test answers from kids who didn’t have a clue.

As for the rest of the Internet, this question left both children and adults scratching their heads. But one Weibo user came up with a clever solution: “The total weight of 26 sheep and 10 goat is 7,700kg, based on the average weight of each animal,” they said. “In China, if you’re driving a ship that has more than 5,000kg of cargo you need to have possessed a boat license for five years. The minimum age for getting a boat’s license is 23, so he’s at least 28.”

According to IFL Science, however, that answer assumes each sheep or goat weighs more than 200 kilograms (440 pounds). In reality, the average sheep or goat weighs about half that. IFL Science suggests that because the captain needs a license to drive the boat, he or she has to be at least 23 years old, instead.

Got thoughts? Go ahead and weigh in—your guess is as good as anyone’s. But if that question left your head spinning, you can always redeem yourself by passing this elementary school math test.

[Source: IFL Science]

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