As the problem states, 1/2 (or 3/6) of the pole is in the ground, another 1/3 (or 2/6) of the ENTIRE LENGTH is in the water, the remainder, being 1/6, is 8 feet. 8X6 = 48.
If you assumed that the 1/3 is considering only the part that is NOT in the ground you would receive a different answer, but the problem does not say that.
It is funny to watch you all argue over such a simple calculation. This isn't really much of a brain teaser so much as it is a word problem.
12 is not the answer: 1/2 of 12 is 6. How can a the part of the pole, which is 8 feet long, be LONGER than the remaining piece of pole (6ft)? Check your answers to make sure they make sense before answering....
I hope none of you are engineers, because in the real world you don't get to argue over a problem statement.