Test 3 – A Chinese math problem has left everyone confused

If math was not one your favorite subjects, then chances are that the mere thought of math problems makes you cringe. While some people like solving these problems and equations, there are others who simply loathe it.

However, a Chinese math problem in a exam question paper has left everyone baffled. In an exam held for the students of the fifth grade, children aged around eleven in the Shunqing district of Nanchong city, China, were asked, “If a ship had 26 sheep and 10 goats on board, how old is the ship’s captain?”

If your first thought after reading the question was that there is an error- there isn’t. According to BBC, the officials said that the question was not a mistake but was supposed to highlight the childrens’ critical awareness.

Pictures of the question quickly went viral on social media, creating a huge buzz and even triggering a debate. Both adults and children tried to come up with their own interesting solutions to the problem. According to South China Morning Post report, while one student mentioned that the captain should be at least 18 of age because a minor is not legally allowed to operate a vessel, another said that the number of animals corresponds to the captain’s age.

While this math problem attracted a lot of attention, something similar happened with the ISI Kolkata question paper as well when the second year students of the Master of Statistics programme found a rather odd question in their Martingale Theory paper. The question read “Mr. Trump decides to post a random message on Facebook and he starts typing a random sequence of letters such that they are chosen independently and uniformly from the 26 possible English alphabets. Find out the expected time of the first appearance of the word COVFEFE.”