### A Simple Problem

Here's a simple problem, made more interesting by the claim (I can't verify it) that it's typical of the kind of problem given to *grade school children* in China:

I wonder how many children in the USA can solve this? In fact, one wonders how many high school students or even college students have the chops to craft a solution.

Let me go one step further—I wonder what percentage of K-12 teachers combined with college professors in anything but STEM curricula can solve this problem?

We hear a lot of talk about the need for an emphasis on STEM so that our country can remain competitive into the 21 century, but I suspect that the results of my rhetorical survey would be discouraging.

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Solution?

Since we really don't know how tall the cat or the turtle is at a glance, we can determine the height of the table by eliminating the need to know the height of the animals. So ... let X be the height of the Table, T be the height of the Turtle, and C be the height of the Cat.

From the illustration:

X + T - C = 130

X + C - T = 170

Add the equations together (C and T cancel out) and solve for X,

2X = 300

X = 150 -- the height of the table.

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Yeah, I know ... *does anyone really need to know this stuff? *

I get it, but EVERYONE should be able to think critically and logically, to solve problems of all kinds with real—not magical—solutions. That's what STEM education gives anyone who receives it. And because a significant percentage of US citizens don't receive it or reject it when it's offered, we get much of the idiocy we've encountered over the past 2 years.

Saying that you "follow the science" is a whole lot different than thinking critically, understanding basic statistics, and solving problems with real—not magical—solutions.

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