Story problems – I love ’em and my son loves ’em, so we have deemed complex story problems a worthwhile academic endeavor. Well written story problems engage us with a bit of ridiculousness and mimic multi-step activities that go into completing a real life task. Yay! That’s for us!
I write one or two complex story problems a week, building them around either “Farmer Brown” or “Le Fictitious Local Diner”, and the answers usually involve 3 sets of computations.
A sampler of our complex story problems involving Farmer Brown –
We consider the issues Farmer Brown faces as he plants crops, tends to his orchards, hosts a barn dance for the hired hands, sells sunflower seeds to the local bird sanctuary, buys new fencing, makes a thousand apple pies, purchases new bells for his cows, maintains his John Deeres, pays his bills, and the like.
– Farmer Brown has just spotted a corn snake in his cornfields! He has decided that he needs to purchase tall boots for his eight field hands, so they can avoid snakebites. A pair of tan boots cost $50 and a pair of brown boots cost $60. Four of the farm hands want tan boots and four want brown boots. How much will Farmer Brown spend to make everybody safe and happy?
– Farmer Brown is hosting a barn dance. The corn jug and fiddle band charges $75 an hour for foot stompin’ square dance music. Farmer Brown wants the band to play for 4 hours, and he will need to tip the band leader (Ed “One Tooth” Simmons, his next-door neighbor) $50. How much will Farmer Brown pay the band at the end of the evening?
– Farmer Brown is helping his kids set up a lemonade stand. They will need 50 lemons for each day in business. How many days can they sell lemonade if Farmer Brown gives them 250 lemons? If each day the kids sell $75 in lemonade and they decide to give Farmer Brown 10% of the profit, how much will they give back to Farmer Brown?
A sampler of our complex story problems involving Le Fictitious Local Diner –
We consider the issues of the diner as management prints up new menus, changes the music in the juke box, buys new uniforms for the wait staff, makes gallons of chicken soup during flu season, plans Thanksgiving dinner, offers cooking camps for kids, bakes dog biscuits, designates wall space for “Employee of the Month”, considers outdoor dining, measures for crepe paper decorations, and the like.
– The SUMMERTIME SWEETHEART SODA SPECIAL at Le Fictitious Local Diner: Hoping to entice the after-movie date crowd, the diner has run a midnight ice-cream soda special (a large-sized soda with two straws and a side of fries) every Friday and Saturday, since June 1st. Well! This has been so popular that the diner went through two boxes of straws (1000 straws to the box) in June alone! If the special is priced at $5.00, how much did the diner gross on the special in June? If the cost per serving works out to $2.00, how much did the diner net from this special in June? Extraneous question: if a box of 1,000 straws costs $17, what is the price per straw (round up)?
– Who’s Cooking at Le Fictitious Local Diner? In August, the diner is offering two week-long (Monday through Friday) cooking camps; one for 7th and 8th graders and one for high school students. The class fee is $200 per student and includes lunch every day and a chef hat. There is room for 10 students in each camp. If it costs the diner $4 for each lunch, and $50 for cooking materials for each student for a week, and a chef’s hat costs $6 each, how much will the diner spend on each camper? At the end of camp, how much will the diner have netted?
– A mintylicious story problem from Le Fictitious Local Diner – the diner has plans to serve up after-dinner mints with the check at the end of every meal. The question is, which mints? The busboys are voting for “Andes Mints” (primarily because one of the busboys is named “Andy”, and wouldn’t that be a riot?). The waitresses think “After Eight” mints are much classier. The diner’s accountant told the staff that it is the thought that counts and strongly suggested they purchase the most cost efficient (cheapest) mint. So, which mints?
After Eight Mints – each box contains 25 mints. A package of 6 boxes sells for $22.
Andes Mints – 5 pounds of Andes Mints can be purchased for $34. There are 70 mints in each pound.
Welcome to the best part of my day!
– Jane BH
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