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## 69 Children

Here’s another attempt at an Elementary-style 3 Act problem. No photos. Just a story. I got this one from my 8 year old daughter, who likes reading the Guinness Book of World Records. This story fascinates her. In class, I’d read right from the Guinness site for Act I.

Act I

The greatest officially recorded number of children born to one mother is 69, to the wife of Feodor Vassilyev (b. 1707-c. 1782), a peasant from Shuya, Russia.

http://www.guinnessworldrecords.com/world-records/3000/most-prolific-mother-ever

Act II

Depending on what the students wonder about, you could go in some different directions here. My daughter wonders about how many of this woman’s children didn’t have a twin. In that case, the information to provide is that the 69 births contained 16 pairs of twins, 7 sets of triplets, and 4 sets of quadruplets.

Act III

The payoff here is that when students do the math above, they will discover that there was not one single case where only one child was born out of all 27 of the pregnancies. That fact makes the whole story seem suspect.

Sequels

• How would you know if the total number of children is even or odd, based on the information about twins, triplets and quadruplets?
• Others?

I may have missed the mark here. It is entirely possible that pregnancy is a topic to be avoided in Elementary school. So far, my daughter has played around on the math on this one for a day or two now without asking me any questions that I don’t want to answer.

### One Response

1. Also a good opportunity to discuss this question: When does a fact belong in “Guiness Book of World Records” and when should it be in “Ripley’s Believe it or Not”?