Fifth Grader Contacts the Police for Help—With Her Math Homework

Members of Ohio's Marion Police Department recently went above and beyond the call of duty, brushing up on their elementary school math skills in the process to help a fifth-grader with her homework.

As ABC News reports, 10-year-old Lena Draper was stymied by problems that involved a combination of addition and multiplication, so she sought assistance on the local police department’s Facebook page. The student left a message, along with a few questions that left her scratching her head, including “(8 + 29) x 15.”

The police messaged Draper back, and briefly explained the mathematical order of operations to her (refresher: PEMDAS, which stands for "parentheses, exponents, multiplication, division, addition and subtraction"). “Do the numbers in the parenthesis first so in essence it would be 37 x 15,” they instructed. Draper followed up with a more difficult question—"(90 + 27) + (29 + 15) x 2"—and the officers gave her additional help.

While their hearts were in the right place, their numbers weren’t: Draper ended up getting the second problem wrong, her mother later noted, as her math mentors mistakenly instructed her to solve the addition problems in both parentheses, and to multiply that answer by two. (Instead, she should have added the numbers in the second parentheses, multiplied that answer by two, and then added the result to the numbers in the first parentheses.)

The jury’s still out on how Draper did on her homework overall, but the Marion PD received props for their willingness to assist with community issues big and small. They received the praise with modesty, and in a Facebook statement, explained that they try to give back to the community in whatever way they can. This type of incident is “really just who we are as a Police Department," the statement noted. "We are deeply connected with our wonderful citizens and they are incredibly supportive of their Police.”

“We really wondered what first made this child think to call upon us for help with homework,” the Marion PD continued. “We don't mind and it's not unheard of but still pretty rare. I believe the answer is simple ... she was made to believe that we are good people who are worthy of her trust and who will be there for her in a pinch. That kind of thing does not happen by accident.”

You can hear an account of the story in Lena's own words below, courtesy of Inside Edition.

[h/t ABC News]