Question

Dear Mitch,

So what is the answer to the Christmas Tree balance sclale problem from the other day?

Mr. Schumacker

Answer

Dear Mr. Schumacker,

The answer is this:

In order to balance the two stars on the left-hand side of scale C, it would take 6 Christmas trees.

This is an illustration of a basic form of a "system of equations" problem (which, of course, usually appears in just letters and numbers).

If you set up a few equations based on the first two equations, such as:

S + T = 2T + 4 (ORN).....................................NOTE: I use 'ORN' for ornaments so that it doesn't get confused with an 'o' for zero.

and:

12 (ORN) = S + T,

You can gradually work your way around to 2S = 6T, and then S = 3T, etc.

And I think that from these headstarts, most middle school classes and high school classes can work their way down to the answer!

Hope this helps,

-- Mitch