Fifth Grader Messages Police For Help With Her Math Homework

“I need a little help with my homework,” Lena wrote in a series of messages. “I don’t understand (8+29) x 15?”

A fifth grader was in trouble and needed some help with her homework. So, instead of asking her parents for help, she messaged the police.

Lena Draper, 10, was struggling with math, specifically with her rather difficult PEMDAS problem. She reached out to the people who she thought could provide the best answers and, therefore, contacted the police department of Marion, Ohio, on their Facebook page.

The story got even more interesting when Lt. B.J. Gruber, who runs the social media page, offered his unreserved help to the child, even though it was way past midnight.

“I’m having trouble with my homework,” she wrote on Facebook. “[C]ould you help me?”

She received an automated reply at first, but less than two hours later (the Facebook page is not monitored 24/7) Lt. Gruber replied to her query with a “what’s up?”

“I need a little help with my homework,” Lena wrote back in a series of messages. “I don’t understand (8+29) x 15?”

“Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 x 15,” the officer instructed her.

Lena then asked the officer: “Ok now if I had this (90+27) + (29+15) x 2. Which one would I do first?”

“Take the answer from the first parenthesis plus the answer from the second parenthesis and multiply that answer times two,” he said. “Work left to right doing the work inside the parenthesis first.”

However, some users noted that the solution to the second numerical problem was wrong. The correct answer was to add the numbers in the second parentheses and then multiply only them by 2. Then add the product to the numbers in the first parentheses. The correct answer would have yielded 205.

However, since fifth-grade was a long time ago for the officer, one can excuse him his little miss.


Lena’s mother, Molly, did not believe her when in the morning her daughter told her she was tutored by a police officer.

“I didn't believe her and asked for a screen shot. I thought it was pretty funny. And I love that they went ahead with it,” she told ABC News. “I was happy, but not surprised that they responded so quickly. They are wonderful with their communication with the community.”

When the mistake was pointed out to Lt. Gruber he just laughed and said, “Hoping it is truly the thought that counts since apparently I cannot!

“Especially since the answer was wrong, it was very nice for Molly to acknowledge our attempt to help her daughter with some math homework.”

“We really try to increase trust and show kids we are approachable,” he added. “This time it was homework, but hopefully next time if a kid is in trouble they will also reach out.”

The police department has also replied they are trying to improve their math skills.


 Banner Photo Credit: Reuters

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