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Rated: E · Fiction · Educational · #2256501
Winner! Daily Flash Fiction 8/13/21 W/C 300

Problem Solving

Marcie put her pencil down. Math was harder than she remembered. She forgot it all over summer break. All the factoring, X and Y.

The library was stuffy, she felt sleepy. So boring.

Julie walked up to her. “What’s the matter?”

“Ugh. Math’s the matter. I give up.”

Julie sat beside Marcie, surveyed her work. “You can’t prove anything. That’s your problem.”

“Huh?” Marcie looked puzzled. “Do I know you?’

“I live down the street from you.”

“Oh, in that blue house? The one with the black dog?”

"That's Brutus. So, you have to solve for Z. Once your equation balances out, it’s a piece of cake.” Julie gave Marcie a big smile.

“It’s all greek to me.”

“Actually, it’s from the Ararbic, al-jabr. Algebra is the building block of most mathematics.”

Marcie looked puzzled. “How old are you? You look too young to be telling me about algebra.”

“I’m in a gifted class at the university. I’m eight. Do you know how to solve this?” Julie wrote on Marcie’s paper the formula,

3x + 5 = 17

Marcie stared, paralyzed. “I literally have no idea.”

“It’s easy. To solve this equation you have to isolate X. So the first thing we need to move is the 5. We want to get X by itself on the left side so we need to get rid of the 5 …”

“Uh, huh.”

Julie rewrote as she said, “The opposite of adding is subtracting. Now we have:
3x + 5 = 17

-5 = - 5

3x = 12

“ The opposite of multiplying is dividing, so then you have:

X = 4

“Because you have to divide both sides by 3.”

“Right.” Marcie now leaned on her arm, trying to stay awake.

“Easy peasy. Do to one side the same as to the other.”

“Are you sure you’re only eight?”

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