Physics problem: How many refugees to throw in the sea?
As Europe faces a crisis with masses of Middle Eastern migrants flooding its borders, middle school students in the Polish city of Bialystok were given a surprising exercise by their physics teacher.
The students were asked to solve an equation, in the framework of which they had to figure out how many migrants should be thrown into the sea.
The teacher, Gajgouj Novick, gave his 14-year-old students the following problem: “Four refugees from Syria are trying to reach Greece on a raft that is one meter x two meters x 20 centimeters.”
“If each refugee weighs 60 kilograms, figure out how many refugees you will have to throw from the raft into the sea so that their friends can reach Greece in safety.”
Several of the students told their parents about the unusual physics problem, and the parents quickly contacted the principal of the school to complain about the teacher.
One of the mothers, Anna Mayerjinska, even posted a picture of the physics problem from her son’s notebook on her Facebook page, and wrote, “I have no words to express my opinion on this. This is a question about how many people have to be murdered so that their friends survive.”
After clarifying with Novick, the principal announced that the teacher had apologized and promised not to repeat his actions – and he further vowed to fire the teacher if a similar question was posed to the students in the future.
Novick afterwards publicly apologized, saying, “I just wanted to get the attention of my students by giving a problem on a current topic.”
“The students aren’t interested when I give them problems on a simple board of wood floating on the water, so I tried to interest them in an unusual way.”