The Internet Is Baffled By This Third Grade Math Problem


Jonathan O'Callaghan

Senior Staff Writer



Another day, another math (American spelling I’m afraid) problem doing the rounds on the Internet. This time, it’s a third-grade question that has got people scratching their heads.

The question does admittedly seem quite odd. “Janell had 15 marbles,” it begins. “She lost some of them. How many does Janell have now?”


The question was posted on Reddit, where users were similarly baffled by the question.


Most agreed that the answer was probably “<15” or “less than 15”. In an interview with Huffington Post, the parent who posted the picture – Dusty Sappington – said her 8-year-old daughter Izzy had been learning about this concept recently, which may explain what’s going on.

“I haven’t found out the answer, but hope to see her graded paper soon,” she said. “To be honest, I’m unsure if it was printed in error or was a question to test her knowledge of less than and greater than, which she has touched on in the past.”

But, gasp, there’s a twist! In a follow-up comment on Reddit from Sappington, she claimed the teacher said she just wanted the children to “come up with [their] own answer”.


Izzy was apparently credited for her answer of “?”. Way to go, Izzy.

  • tag
  • math problem,

  • help