Sunday, May 24, 2015

[Pri20150523WNCA] Trees arranged in a Hexagon Outline


     This is real eeeasy peasy lemon squeezy, isn’t it?  54 ¸ 6 = 9  Ta da!  The answer, right? Wrong!  You got tricked!  Ha!  Ha!
     Always tryto understand the question and do the planning first.  Never be in a hurry and jump to thecalculation stage.  So what went wrong?  Well, the tree at each vertex is counted twice.
     Sometimes to understand the situation, it may be easier to consider a simpler problem.  Let us say there are four trees per side.  This is how it looks like from above.

     You can see that the corner trees (coloured in orange instead of brown) are counted twice, because they each serve as an extreme marker of two of the sides of the hexagon.  There are 18 trees and if you divide by  6,  you get  3  and not  4.  One way to count properly is to start from one corner tree and count groups of three trees, either in a clockwise or anti-clockwise (American: counter-clockwise) direction.

     Notice that the number of trees on one edge of the hexagon is equal to the number of trees in one group plus one (the corner tree for the next group).  So for  18  trees, the correct calculation is  18 ¸ 6 + 1 = 3 + 1 = 4  for the number of trees along one edge.  We use the same procedure for  54  trees.

     number of trees on each side = 54 ¸ 6 + 1 = 9 + 1 = 10

Final Remarks
     You may want to generalise it into a formula
                    # trees on each side = total # trees ¸ #sides + 1
However, I do not recommend that you purposely memorise this formula.  Mathematics is not about memorisation.  It is about understanding.  Once you understand it, the formula comes out automatically.  You may test yourself or get a friend to test your understanding by setting a similar question but changing the number of trees and number of sides.

H02. Use a diagram / model
H04. Look for pattern(s)
H10. Simplify the problem

Suitable Levels
Primary School Mathematics
* other syllabuses that involve whole numbers

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