Monday, November 17, 2014

Mathville Puzzles: The final exam

Graphic courtesy of Alberto G.

Every year, Mrs. Blivet's 12th grade students at Bitwise Shift High School in Mathville take a final exam to see who the cleverest students are.  The exam consists of 8 questions, some requiring mathematical thinking, others requiring common sense or attention to detail (such as identifying irrelevant information). Can you find the correct answers to all 8 questions in this year's final exam?

Mrs. Blivet's 12th Grade Final Exam

1.    Which USA state is surrounded by the most water?
2.    You have only one match. You enter a dark room in which there are an oil lamp, a wood burning stove, and a candle.  Which would you light first?
3.    There are 100 houses on Protractor Road. House numbers are 1 to 100. How many houses have the number 9 in their address?
4.    The Sun is about 100 million miles from the Earth. The speed of light is 186,000 miles per second, and light takes 8 minutes to reach the Earth. The sun rose at 6:11 am this morning. A warp in the time-space continuum causes the speed of light to double. What time will the sun rise tomorrow?
5.    If five thousand, five hundred and three dollars is written as $5,503, how would fifteen thousand, fifteen hundred and fifteen dollars be written?
6.    Why are 2001 dollar coins worth more than 1999 dollar coins?
7.    A train leaves Octagon Station exactly on time. The train conductor leaves the driver's cab and walks the length of the train, taking half an hour to do so. He then returns to the cab at the same speed. When he arrives back at the cab, the train is pulling into Cartesian Station, which is 60 miles from Octagon. How fast was the train moving?
8.    If one half of 5 were 3, how much would one third of 10 be?

Contest Rules

  • You must send the solution via email to Laura Skinner at
    Solution due by Monday, November 24th at 11:59 p.m. Solutions sent after the deadline will not be considered.
  • You must email the solution from your PVCC email address.
  • All 8 questions must be answered correctly.
  • You must explain how you arrived at the solution -- that is, you must show your work, explain your reasoning.
  • Only correct solutions with explanations of the reasoning used to arrive at the solution will be considered.
  • Thirteen entries will be drawn from all the correct solutions, to determine three first places, six  second places, and four third places.
  • The first place winners will each be awarded a $30 gift certificate to the PVCC Bookstore.
  • The second place winners will each be awarded a $15 gift certificate to the Mermaid Express coffee cart.
  • The third prize winners will each be awarded a big Hershey’s milk chocolate bar.
  • Drawing will be conducted on Monday, December 1st, 2014. 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 Friday, December 5th at 4 p.m., or they forfeit their prizes. Prizes must be picked up in person. Please present your student I.D.