Suppose the Three Little Pigs Huff-and-Puff-Proof Housing Co. sent you to the hardware store to purchase enough bricks for five model houses. If each wall requires 100 bricks, how many bricks should you buy? Learning how to use your math skills to solve what are commonly called word problems not only can help you earn good grades on tests but also can help you handle all sorts of everyday situations, from figuring out grocery store bargains to saving money for college. Become a better word-problem solver by learning helpful strategies and trying an assortment of interesting problems through these direct links on The Times Launch Point Web site: http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/

Here are the best sites for getting your schoolwork done or for just having fun.

Level 1

Math Stories (Grades 1-8): Help the Cat in the Hat, the Three Little Pigs and other storybook characters solve word problems in this collection of more than 4,000 problems submitted by students and teachers. Choose from math, history and science problems, and even learn some magic tricks with numbers.

http://www.mathstories.com/

Aunty Math: Solving word problems can be made easier sometimes by making a list or chart or even by acting out the problem. Participate in Aunty Math's weekly math challenge and have fun trying out puzzles from previous weeks.

http://www.dcmrats.org/auntymath.html

Math for Kids: A Medieval Adventure in Problem-Solving: Sometimes looking for a pattern or drawing a picture can help you solve a problem. Learn 11 helpful problem-solving strategies and be guided through 30 word problems in which you decide what the problem asks you to find out, what information is needed to solve the problem, and which mathematical equation will solve the problem.

http://tqjunior.thinkquest.org/4471/

Level 2

Ask Dr. Math (Middle School): Knowing the formula for a measurement, such as area = length x width, can help you solve problems such as determining how much square footage of carpeting you would need for a room. Dr. Math explains problems step by step.

http://forum.swarthmore.edu/dr.math/tocs/wordproblem.middle.html

Understanding Algebra: Word Problems: Learn problem-solving strategies, see how mathematical concepts expressed in words can be converted to equations, and see examples of how different types of problems can be solved in this very helpful site.

http://www.edteach.com/algebra/word_problems.htm

Mrs. Glosser's Math Goodies: Did you know that fractions, percentages and ratios are essentially the same thing? This site shows you how percentage word problems can be solved by drawing simple diagrams, and it provides assistance with word problems in other areas, such as pre-algebra, geometry and probability.

http://www.mathgoodies.com/

Level 3

Word Problems for Kids (Grades 5-12): Improve your word problem expertise through this special collection of problems designed to acquaint you with different strategies.

http://www.stfx.ca/special/mathproblems/welcome.html

Practice SAT Math: Tutorials: In solving distance problems in which more than one object is moving, it is helpful to compare the distance each object moves. Get ready for the math portion of the SAT exam with tutorials organized by topic and useful tips, approaches and explanations of problem types.

http://practice.satmath.com/sat1/tutorial/body.html

About Word Problems: This extensive collection of word problems and resources includes helpful strategies for tackling problems such as one called DVPES, which stands for data, variable, plan, equation and solution.

http://math.about.com/science/math/sitesearch.htm?

terms=word+problems&SUName=math&TopNode=4911

Launch Point is produced by the UC Irvine department of education, which reviews each site for appropriateness and quality. Even so, parents should supervise their children's use of the Internet. This column was designed by Rebecca Jurado, Steve Taylor and Anna Manring.

EXPLORER'S QUEST

The answer to this Internet quiz can be found in the sites at right.

If Al's father is 45 years old and is 15 years more than twice Al's age, how old is Al?

CLUE: See Ask Dr. Math (Middle School)

Find What You Need to Know: Have a project on California history? Need help doing a math problem? Launch Point covers more than 100 topics for getting your schoolwork done. Go to http://www.latimes.com/launchpoint/ for the full list of subjects and direct links to the best Internet sites.

Answer to last week's Quest: The human brain generates 10 to 12 watts of electricity--enough to power a flashlight.