Fraction problem has got the better of people – but not because it’s difficult

Remember at school, when your maths teachers would impress upon you the importance of showing your working out?

When it came to homework, tests and exams , it was never enough to just give the answer, you had to show how you got there.

Even if the answer was wrong (which, in our case, was often), you could still get points for your working out.

Unfortunately as we get older, we forget these things.

Take the maths question Ed Southall, author of Yes But Why? and Geometry Snacks, recently posted on Twitter .

Most adults have struggled to explain the working out behind their answer.

We took a look at the shaded part of the square, and figured out the answer was a third.

We weren’t the only ones, either.

Plenty of other people had come up with the same answer too.

The good news, this is the correct answer.

The bad news is, this only half the battle won.

So how would you explain your answer?

Like this?

Or like this?

Or perhaps this way?

This seems like the simplest way of working it out.

Ed hasn’t yet confirmed the correct answer, it’s good to see we’d not be the only ones scrambling to explain our answer beyond "it’s just a hunch."

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