Adding fractions of Groups of People
I understand the rules of adding fractions perfectly well. I know how to find common denominators, and understand why adding fractions without common denominators doesn't make sense.
But, today someone asked me about adding and . They were wondering why dividing the two factions and taking the average () was giving them a different value than adding them together, and then dividing ().
My initial reaction was the same as yours: I was taken aback by someone adding fractions in this way, and I gave a quick refresher of why this doesn't make sense, and how to properly add fractions.
I thought I had helped them fix their problem, until they gave more more context: The was five people in a group of six who were observed washing their hands after a certain activity. The was twenty-one out of twenty-eight people who were observed washing their hands after a certain activity. The goal was to find the total number of people who had washed their hands, as a fraction of the total number of observed people. So, is actually correct in this case.
But, I'm still having trouble reconciling this with what I know about fractions. At least, what I think I know. Is there a term for these sorts of fractions? This isn't like having five slices of a six-slice pizza combined with twenty-one slices of a twenty-eight-slice pizza. This is like having one oven holding six pizzas, five of which have mushrooms, and another (huge) oven holding twenty-eight pizzas, twenty-one of which have mushrooms. What fraction of the pizzas have mushrooms? Is it ? I don't think so.
Is there some terminology I'm forgetting here? Why am I getting so tripped up by this?