Monday, February 24, 2014

Monthly math puzzle: Welcome to Mathville!

Did you know that solving puzzles exercises your math "muscles"? Puzzles sharpen and develop your reasoning abilities, and they can be a lot of fun. The more puzzles you solve, the more your brain is primed for the reasoning needed for math. And you know what's even better news? You can exercise your math muscles by participating in the Jessup Library's monthly math puzzle, and you can win a prize for placing first, second or third!

Here's how it works: every month I (Laura) will challenge you with a math puzzle. These puzzles do not require that you know any math -- you just have to know how to figure things out using your thinking skills. You will have a few days to work out the solution to the puzzle and send me the solution via email. I will draw three winners from the correct solutions, and these winners will get some prizes:

First place -- a $30 gift certificate to the PVCC Bookstore
Second place -- a $15 gift certificate to the Mermaid Express (coffee and pastries and fruit, oh my!)
Third place -- a big Hershey's milk chocolate bar

For the complete rules, please scroll to the bottom of this post. Please read the puzzle and the rules very carefully.

The Dog Agility Meet

One sunny June Sunday in Mathville, Susan Himes stood at the Northwest corner of Euclid Park, next to the dog agility field, with her three dogs (Ella, Emma and Todd). They had just competed and won some ribbons. A woman approached Susan and said, “I just saw your dogs perform and I’m impressed with their agility! How old are they?”

Susan replied, “I will give you a hint. If you multiply the dogs’ ages, the product will be 36.”

The woman thought for a while. “Hmm,” she said, “I’m afraid that’s not enough information.”

“OK,” replied Susan. “I’ll give you this: If you add up the dogs’ ages, the sum is the same as the number of events we had today.”

Again, the woman thought for a while, then shook her head. “No,” she said. “That’s still not enough information.”

Susan said, “Well, the oldest dog took first place in the fence jumping event.”

The woman smiled and gave Susan the correct ages of the dogs. 

Now it’s your turn. Using the given clues, find the ages of the dogs and the number of events at the meet. 

Contest Rules
  • You must send the solution via email to Laura Skinner at
  • You must email the solution from your PVCC email address.
  • Only correct solutions with explanations of the reasoning used to arrive at the solution will be considered.
  • Three entries will be drawn from all the correct solutions, to determine a first, second and third place.
  • The first place prize will be a $30 gift certificate to the PVCC Bookstore.
  • The second place prize will be a $15 certificate to the Mermaid Express coffee cart.
  • The third prize will be a big Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.
  • Solution due by Friday, February 28th at 11:59 p.m. Solutions sent after the deadline will not be considered.
  • Drawing will be conducted on Saturday, February 29th. Winners will be notified by email, and their names will be published on a blog post. 
  • The solution to the puzzle will be published on the blog after winners have been announced.
  • Winners must pick up their prizes by Thursday, March 13th, at 9 p.m. or they forfeit their prizes.