“Obsessed” wouldn’t be too sharp a description. Not with the math, which isn’t more advanced than high school trigonometry. Rather with the problem itself, and the opportunities it offers students to think mathematically.
In its current form, those opportunities are limited. In its current form, the problem asks students to read given information (and a lot of it), recall a formula, and calculate the result. That’s important mathematical thinking but hardly the most important kind of mathematical thinking (a statement of opinion) and not the only kind of mathematical thinking the context offers us (a statement of fact). There are more mathematical opportunities, and more interesting ones, than the problem offers in its current form.
So change that! How would you makeover this problem and help students experience all those interesting opportunities to learn mathematics?
On Monday, I’ll offer my own thoughts, along with a collaboration with Chris Lusto.