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June 2022

Selected from: One Minute Mysteries: 65 Short Mysteries You Solve With Math!

 

Tall Tale

Tree Lined Park

Challenge Day was one of the highlights of the week at camp. The campers were sent off on all kinds of odd errands, such as finding animal fur, certain kinds of leaves, nuts, and other bits of nature.

 

Dominic and Vincent had ended up with what they were sure was the toughest assignment: figuring out the exact height of the lone tree in the center of the field. They almost had to laugh when they were given only two tools to do it: a yardstick and a large ball of string.

 

 

“This is impossible,” Dominic said, squinting up at the top of the tree. It was a sunny day.

 

 

“It can’t be impossible,” Vincent said. “The counselor said that other guys have done it with the same things they gave us.”

 

 

They thought for a while.

 

 

“Well, I have an idea,” Dominic said, “but it’s not going to be easy. One of us could hold the ball of string while the other one ties the end to his belt and climbs the tree. We could probably get close enough to the top to estimate how much is left, and then we could add that to the length of string from there to the ground.”

 

 

“I don’t think we’d like the result of that,” Vincent said.

 

 

“Why not?” asked Dominic.