Direct Translation of a Word Problem

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Calling the following problem a challenging math problem is a little bit of a stretch, but easy for one person may be challenging for the next. Just coping with the indeterminacy of letting an unknown number be represented by a variable or x can be a lot to overcome the first time you are exposed to algebra. Often a rote  direct translation of the English statement simplifies and shortens the problem.

In the following problem we are asked to write the sum(means to add) of the first and third integer as an expression containing the variable x.

If x is the first of four consecutive integers, express the sum of the first integer and the third integer as an algebraic expression containing the variable x.

The four consecutive integers beginning with x are x, x+1, x+2, and x+3.

The first integer is evidently x and the third integer is x+2. Since we are to find the sum of the first and third integer, we obtain x + (x+2) = 2x + 2 which is an expression containing the variable x, so we are done.

Remember Algebra involves allowing letters/variable to represent unknowns in order to make the manipulations of the unknowns easier to manage.

For a more challenging direct translation math word problem, take a look at this one given to a group of gifted and talented fourth graders.

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