Not To Be Trusted With Knives











{May 25, 2007}   Apparently I Am Not As Smart as a Sixth Grader. About the Same Height Though.

I’m spending my “day off” volunteering at a science competition for grade 6-8 students. Just on a break between the quiz show and lunch right now, so I thought I’d fire off a quick blog posting. Sitting with a group of grad students during the quiz show and watching the competition was like a real life version of that show that was on TV a little while ago* “are you smarter than a 5th grader?” Except it was 6th-8th graders. And the answer is “no”. In fairness, the kids had been studying a book on science from which the questions were taken, and we had not. Yes, I am justifying why the kids knew more about math than I do.

Had you been sitting in that lecture hall at my table, you would have heard things like this:

Question: A question from the physics and astronomy section. Name the three components of the exterior of a space ship.

Grad Students**: Um… windows… doors…. and… and… um…. fire coming out the bottom?


Question: This is from the math category. What is 7 + 14 medulo 5.

Grad Students: [looks of stunned incomprehension] Medulo? wtf???***


Question: A physics and astronomy question. Why do the icy comets live in the outer part of the solar system, while the rocky ones are in the interior?

Grad Student #1: oooh ooh! Because it’s colder! YES! We are so smart!

Grad student #2: I protest that question. Comets aren’t alive.

Grad student #3: Who are you to say that? Are you an comet? Comets might have feelings!

Grad student #2: Do they reproduce? Do they metabolize? Do they??

Grad student #4: This is why we don’t invited to the cool parties.


*I didn’t actually see the show, as I don’t have cable, but I seemed to be all over the media at the time.

**I’m counting myself as one of the grad students here, even though I’m not really a grad student anymore. I have trouble letting go.

***After the competition, we asked one of the kids if we could see her science book to find out what a medulo was. Even after reading it,w e still didn’t understand!

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Jorge says:

These questions are crazy, but they make me smile…

1) Thruster assembly, guidance (fins), skin (heat shield)

2) 7+14 modulo 5 is 1 (I think)

3) Comets are made up of rock, water, and other crap. Whoever mentioned “colder” was probably right. Comets come from the Ort cloud (I think I’m spelling that wrong), and on the outside of large planetary systems, they would exist primarily as ice, due to the distance from heat from a radiant body, or heat from the “friction” that would result from passing a large gravity field.

Of course, I have a psych degree, so I could be blowing smoke out of my ass. As it stands, though, “Green” Spaces are among my favourites in Trival Pursuit. (Genus I)



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