Reasoning in Context

Though I struggled with word problems like my peers, I’ve learned to appreciate the logic.

Here’s one of my favorite word problems. We encourage working the math before checking with the answer. All the best.

**A old man must bring a fox, a chicken, and a bag of corn across a river in order to get home. However, given the rickety nature of the boat, he can only bring one item across else it sinks. The problem is he cannot leave the chicken with the fox or the fox will eat the chicken. He also cannot leave the chicken with the bag of corn or the chicken will eat the corn. As it takes a good five minutes to cross each time, how does he get all three across?

**Here’s a clue. The first time I solved the problem, I drew pictures of how I would get all three across if I were the old man. I think I was a teenager, but the process worked. From that point forward, I realized the value of drawing problems out so I could see the work in progress.

Nope. This won’t work.

I think it took about five minutes. Always liked these clocks.

**Okay, here’s how the old man solved the riddle. As shared above, he couldn’t leave the fox with the chicken or the chicken with the corn (on either side). Here’s what he did.

**He took the chicken across the river, leaving the fox with the corn (The fox didn’t care for corn.). Then, he went back and grabbed the corn, taking it across the river. He then grabbed the chicken, for he couldn’t leave it with the corn, and took it back to the first side: with the fox. He grabbed the fox, dropping off the chicken, then took it across the river, leaving the fox with the corn. He then went back to retrieve the chicken. After he crossed with the chicken, he had all three and took them home.

**The idea of following the rabbit of reason along the trail of understanding is step by step. And logic puzzles are a great way to practice. I must admit, I was not one great for logic while growing up. Time and necessity helped with that, like when I was in college trying to make an $800 car last for four years, often at junk yards to pick up cheaper parts or reading auto books to figure out how to change a water pump and such. Step by step. Time and situations causes people to look at problems as opportunities to find solutions. And that’s always a win-win.


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