Fundamental Problem Solving Concepts

Understand the Situation

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Understand the Situation

Do you remember the last time you watched the sky glow with streaks of lightning and listened to the resonating claps of thunder? You may have wondered how far away the lightning was from where you stood.

There is a simple rule that says: "The distance of lightning in miles is the time in seconds between the appearance of the lightning and the sound of the thunder, divided by 5." Watch the video again to count the seconds between the lightning and thunder.

To analyze this problem of how far away the lightning is, you need to start by understanding the situation. Think about these questions:

  • What does the rule tell you about the type of problems you will be solving?
  • What information does this rule provide?
  • What are the quantities that vary (that is, what are the variables)?
  • How are these variables related?
  • Which variable is the dependent variable and which is the independent variable?

VIDEO: Lightning and Thunder


A quantity is an amount that can be measured. What can you measure in this situation?