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# Problem Solving Approach

So, you look at a problem and they mention a rectangular garden and they want to know the diagonal distance from one corner to another. The problem also gives you the measurements of the length and width of the garden. I know what you’re thinking; I have no interest in gardening. That is a common response students have when problem solving math problems. A lot of the time students look at the surface of the problem without simplifying the question. For example, in our gardening problem, look at words like rectangular and diagonal. These are simple keys without thinking of grass and tulips. I recommend drawing a rectangle and a diagonal line. Next, you want to look for important information. This information is usually numeric or an algebraic expression. For this problem, let’s assume its numeric. So now you have your info and it’s time to come up with a strategy to solve. The best strategy is to use Pythagorean Theorem because the diagonal cuts the rectangle into two right triangles. Once the strategy is in place, it is time to solve. Once solving, you check your answer and you’re done. To simplify this method, use the following five steps to problem solving:

1. Find out what the problem is asking you to solve

2. Write down significant information

3. Use information to come up with a strategy to solve

4. Solve the problem using your strategy