Equations and Inequalities
When You Get Stuck
Like a truck. In the mud.
Sometimes, when working out a math problem, we get stuck. Our tires are spinning like crazy, but we aren't moving forward a hair. Here's a neat trick: figuring out why we're stuck often tells us what we need to do to get un-stuck.
Solve the equation
We haven't seen anything like this equation before. We've seen things like it, but not exactly...we've seen other equations, but we...oh, you know what we mean. The x is in the denominator of the fraction instead of in the numerator. Because we don't know what to do about that, let's get the x out of the denominator. Quickly, before it causes any trouble. Multiply both sides of the equation by x to find that
1 = 10x
From here, we know what to do. Divide both sides by 10, and we can conclude that
Next time you get stuck on a problem, write a note in the margin saying "I don't know what to do here because...(fill in the blank)." For example, you might write "I don't know what to do here because there is an x in the denominator." See if knowing why you're stuck helps you find a way to get un-stuck. It may surprise you how much simply writing down the point of confusion can help you clear away the cloud. If that doesn't work, you can always try a rain dance.