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Figure This!

Another way to write the problem in the Challenge, where x is the
weight of the little fish, y is the weight of the medium fish, and z
is the weight of the big fish, is:

x + y = 5
y + z = 7
x + z = 6

As a young woman, Mary Fairfax Somerville (1780–1872) discovered algebra while reading a ladies’ fashion magazine. In its pages, she saw a question with ”strange looking lines mixed with letters, chiefly X’s and Y’s” (Perl, 1978). She continued to study mathematics until she was 92.

The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM) recommends that algebraic thinking start in pre-kindergarten using concrete, pictorial, verbal, and symbolic representations.

Spreadsheet formulas require algebra.

Some formulas are found in popular reading materials. For example, the formula for Body Mass Index (BMI) is found in The Old Farmers’ Almanac (2000). (See Challenge 21)

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