Is the Math Problem That's Driving the Internet Crazy Really Meant for Little Kids?

This math problem made the rounds as a first grade test question from Singapore—but its real roots might explain why none of us can solve it.

Don't you just love it when your kid brings home math homework and asks for your help? I know I do! JK...actually, I can't stand it. Because nine times out of 10 I'm left staring, bewildered, at a problem I have no idea how to tackle. And as the minutes tick by and I still haven't put pencil to paper, I slowly begin to lose all credibility in my child's eyes.

Fun times! But at least I'm not alone. Because a math problem that was originally said to be made for a first grade kids' exam in Singapore is currently going crazy viral on social media, since it seems that no one can figure out how to solve it.

The question is a circular puzzle that asks students fill in the blanks with the appropriate numbers. But there's no other information about how you're supposed to solve it.

Check it out:

Any ideas? Yeah, me neither. Are we supposed to multiply each number by 3? Divide? Use some weird combination of both? Apply a different mathematics formula entirely? Who knows! It's like the hardest Sudoku puzzle ever, only without any solution.

Here's the thing, though: Despite what we've been told on social media, this thing may not actually have been designed for kids, after all. Mashable reached out to Singapore's Ministry of Education, who said through a spokesperson that they don't even issue a first-grade level exam. Hmmm... the plot thickens!

And get this: The geniuses at Mashable also figured out that the question looks a lot like one on the blog of a guy who creates math puzzles. The only difference in his puzzle is that the bottom-left number is a "20" instead of a "2."

But look at the Singapore puzzle closely—doesn't it look like the "2" may actually once have been a "20"? Only now the zero has been covered up? Why else would the "2" be in the tens position? Perhaps that's the real mystery?

Not gonna lie though—even with a 20 in that spot, I still can't solve the puzzle.

Hollee Actman Becker is a freelance writer, blogger, and mom of two who writes about parenting and pop culture. Check out her website holleeactmanbecker.com for more, and then follow her on Instagram and Twitter

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