How Many Pieces of Chocolate?

The large box was full of chocolate. The first person took half of the pieces of chocolate in the box plus two more pieces. The next person took half of the remaining pieces of chocolate plus two more pieces. The third person took half of the remaining pieces of chocolate plus two more pieces. There are only two pieces of chocolate left in the box. How many pieces of chocolate were in the box when it was full?

Some of you may be thinking, “Oh no, not a math problem.” Maybe you approach these types of problems on an emotional level saying, “I don’t care how many pieces of chocolate were in the box. All I know is that there are only two pieces left, only three people have had chocolate from this huge box and I didn’t get any! Why did the first person take so many pieces? He should have saved some for the rest of us. These aren’t the kind of people I would invite to my party. I wonder if my favorite chocolate was in the box?” This type of thinking could go on all day, but unfortunately it doesn’t solve the problem.

A child could randomly start guessing numbers but it could take awhile to find the solution. Someone with math experience may choose to quickly write down an equation to solve the problem.

If a child was given a hint like “try to work backwards through the problem,” then she could probably solve it in a few seconds. She may need to be reminded that there are two pieces of chocolate left in the box. With concentration, an eight year old could figure out this problem in her head.

There are many ways to approach a problem. Some are more effective than others. Some people will be able to solve a problem faster than others. It depends on how you look at it.

How often in life do we approach problems from the wrong perspective? We spend hours and hours uselessly trying to come up with a solution that could have been reached in a couple of seconds if we had just approached it from a different angle. We spend a lot of time and effort trying to get the answer, but we are working on it in the wrong way.

All of us approach life from different perspectives and with different levels of experience. It could save a lot of time if we paid more attention to the advice or hints given to us by those who have had more experience or those who are looking at it from a different perspective.

Instead of feeling frustrated that we couldn’t do it on our own, we should be grateful for the extra words of advice. Think of the hours you could save! (By the way, the answer to the problem is 44). Which reminds me, I think I need to try one of those last two pieces of chocolate from the box.

Have a great day and make time for chocolate.