Pythagorean What?

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High school students were asked the following question, which requires that they understand the Pythagorean Theorem and know how to apply it in three- dimensional objects. But New York state educators question whether students have been taught to solve such complex problems.

A straw is placed into a rectangular box that is 3 inches by 4 inches by 8 inches, as shown in the accompanying diagram. If the straw fits exactly into the box diagonally from the bottom-left-front corner to the top-right-back corner, how long is the straw, to the nearest 10th of an inch?

Answer: 9.4

SOURCE: New York State Department of Education

Vol. 22, Issue 42, Page 21

Published in Print: July 9, 2003, as Pythagorean What?
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