A problem that led to an interesting math conversation this morning

My younger son’s math club had a homework problem that boiled down to this idea:

Your backyard is 600 square yards. You want to pay someone to mow the yard for you, but want to pay less than 5 cents per square yard. What is the maximum amount of money you can pay?

It was interesting to me how both of my kids interpreted this problem differently than I did.

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Comments

3 Comments so far. Leave a comment below.
  1. I can think of two immediate interpretations, I wonder who had each.

    Here is an avenue for more discussion: mowing the lawn is a repeated activity. What variables do you control that influence how much you end up paying?

    • They both had the same idea (I talked with them independently) – you should pay 4 cents per square yard.

      I think the problem is not phrased in a clear enough way to know what answer the problem’s author was looking for, but I suspect the “correct” answer was $29.99.

  2. interesting… I, and I presume most adults, share your interpretation. IF your boys are representative of their age groups, then it would be interesting to know at what age (and why) the interpretation switches over? …and is it a linguistic or number-sense switch that is occurring?

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