Whittle County
(page 98)

Here's a solution from a group of fifth graders from Los Angeles

Hi Mr. Erickson,

It's Maggie, Robert, and Dana from Los Angeles again. We worked on Whittle County. It was hard. We had a hard time picturing how the bus schedules worked together. Then we made a table to keep track of our ideas and things went more smoothly.

We decided that the route that would take the least amount of time was probably the route that covered the least distance. We also noticed that no matter what we did, there was going to be some wasted time when we had to wait in a city longer than we wanted to. We noticed that a figure-eight pattern would get us to all the cities and cut out two lengths of the map. After some experimenting, we found a route that would get us back to Placer by 2 p.m. We think this is the shortest route.

We have attached our table in a Word file.

Thanks for all the math problems. You are keeping us thinking.

Maggie, Dana, and Robert
5th graders from Los Angeles

eeps replies:

Thank you for sending in your solution! Anybody who wants the Word file can write me for it. (I'm having trouble decoding it again, but I'll get it right, don't worry!) Meanwhile, your reply gives me a chance to point out two things other people ought to notice:

  • It WAS hard to picture everything, so you had to make a table. Good observation. Some of these problems seem to be as much about organizing your information as anything else. That's on purpose, of course!
  • You noticed that there was wasted time. A lot of problems have elegant, economical solutions. Others -- like this one -- do not. You're right. You have to sit around and wait. The problem then becomes how to wait the least.

Somewhere I have what was the fastest solution yet (by Julie Bagniefski). I'll see if I can find it and compare it with yours.

Tim Erickson

P. S., I think Maggie and Robert are the same people who submitted solutions to Mystery Op 1 and Mystery Op 2.

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