K-6 Math in the News: Facebook Flower Math Puzzle

Have you seen this math puzzle? Do you know what the correct answer is?

Original article link: Can You Work Out This Mind-bending Flower Puzzle? – News.com Australia, 17th June 2016

If you teach math, like me, your friends probably sent you this math puzzle, thinking you’d like it “because you’re a teacher”.

As a general thing, that’s fine. In fact, I welcome math puzzles especially if they have some actual math in them, something to work out.

This puzzle looks great when you first see it, but ultimately it’s more of a tease than a proper math puzzle. In fact, I find it downright frustrating.

Why? If you’ve seen it on Facebook, a news article, or elsewhere on social media, you’ll have seen people arguing about whether the fact that the final blue flower has 4 petals, rather than the 5 on other blue flowers, makes any difference to the result.

My take on this: the question is ambiguous, and the correct answer isn’t what it appears at first.

You’ll need to watch the video above to hear my full response. Keep watching until the end of the video, where I offer an alternative math puzzle, one that has an actual, bona fide correct answer.

Think you have an answer to the flower puzzle? Do you have the answer to my square puzzle? Leave a comment below.

4 Replies to “K-6 Math in the News: Facebook Flower Math Puzzle”

  1. I got 30 squares by counting them. I can see there seems to be a pattern where the total is equal to the sum of the squares for how many units it is (ie this 4×4 is 1+4+9+16 going from the largest to the smallest square). I think it will be the same for any sized square, but I can’t quite get my head around why this works?

    1. Thanks for contributing, Isabel. That’s a good answer.

      I agree with your thought that a solution will work for any sized square. Do you think children would get this? I do, if they were happy to play around with it for a while.

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