Author Topic: Scientific literacy question bank  (Read 4703 times)

Offline Chew

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Scientific literacy question bank
« on: May 16, 2012, 12:07:38 PM »
I'm always complaining about the astounding level of scientific illiteracy found on the internet. While I can't do anything about that I've often fantasized about a forum requiring potential registrants to pass a simple science and critical thinking test before being allowed to post. Of course this would dissuade people genuinely interested in the space program but lacking in the basics of science from asking questions. Based on a few recent posts here are some pertinent questions.

-What is the volume of a cone 5 feet in diameter with a height of 8 feet?
-How much space is occupied by a wire 1 mm in diameter and 10 miles long.
Math problems would use randomized numbers and rounded to the nearest integer to prevent cheating.
-Which best describes Kepler's 1st Law of Planetary Motion? Multiple choice.
-The amount of light reflected by an astronomical object is known as ______. Fill in the blank.

Answers would be timed to prevent someone from Googling it.

What questions would you like to see for such a test?

Offline BazBear

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #1 on: May 16, 2012, 12:35:56 PM »
I'm always complaining about the astounding level of scientific illiteracy found on the internet. While I can't do anything about that I've often fantasized about a forum requiring potential registrants to pass a simple science and critical thinking test before being allowed to post. Of course this would dissuade people genuinely interested in the space program but lacking in the basics of science from asking questions. Based on a few recent posts here are some pertinent questions.

-What is the volume of a cone 5 feet in diameter with a height of 8 feet?
-How much space is occupied by a wire 1 mm in diameter and 10 miles long.
Math problems would use randomized numbers and rounded to the nearest integer to prevent cheating.
-Which best describes Kepler's 1st Law of Planetary Motion? Multiple choice.
-The amount of light reflected by an astronomical object is known as ______. Fill in the blank.

Answers would be timed to prevent someone from Googling it.

What questions would you like to see for such a test?
I guess it's not a bad idea, but for someone like me who has rarely calculated volumes since H.S. (it'll be 30 years since graduation on the 30th) I had to look up the formulas for cones and cylinders.
"It's true you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl." - Mark Watney, protagonist of The Martian by Andy Weir

My Youtube Apollo playlist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SfyE9qsG8k&list=PL2aEC7cUMrGCNrtGMMWRXYob-kqCz2zz8

Offline Chew

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #2 on: May 16, 2012, 12:42:13 PM »
In my idealized forum you don't need to get a perfect score. Maybe 80%.

What questions would you ask?

Offline Not Myself

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #3 on: May 16, 2012, 01:05:13 PM »
I guess it's not a bad idea, but for someone like me who has rarely calculated volumes since H.S. (it'll be 30 years since graduation on the 30th) I had to look up the formulas for cones and cylinders.

Well, me being much younger, having graduated 13 days after you, I might have to derive them (which I can do, but that might get me into trouble on the time limit).  I had to guess about the formula for the volume of a cone, but I then derived it, and my guess was correct.

I would like the questions to be more on understanding the concepts, and not so much on the words used to describe them.  The first two questions seem very much on understanding/using the concepts, the last two are more about words/names.  I don't remember which law is Kepler's 1st law, although given sufficient time, paper, and ink, I could work out in full detail the equations describing a planet's orbit.  So someone could know Kepler's 1st law, without knowing that it is called Kepler's first law.

Just my preference . . .

So there are currently some questions on astronomy, and some on geometry.  Maybe some physics (problems involving basic motion of a projectile in a gravitational field, structure of the atom, some conservation of energy problem), chemistry (which element does this, which one does that, different types of chemical bonds), a few biology (maybe a genetics problem, and some general morphology questions, perhaps evolution).  Maybe some geology.
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Offline gillianren

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #4 on: May 16, 2012, 02:03:04 PM »
If you want people who get math questions right, you won't be getting me.  I get a daily SAT question in my inbox, and I don't even bother with the math ones.  I graduated from high school a mere seventeen years ago next month, but get me to tell you someday about my physics class in high school and why I don't know physics.
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Offline Echnaton

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #5 on: May 16, 2012, 02:23:40 PM »
I've often fantasized about a forum requiring potential registrants to pass a simple science and critical thinking test.

I applaud your intention, but is there such a thing as a simple test for critical thinking?  Certainly a hoax discussion forum that selective would be a very quite place. 
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline Chew

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #6 on: May 16, 2012, 02:35:49 PM »
I've often fantasized about a forum requiring potential registrants to pass a simple science and critical thinking test.

I applaud your intention, but is there such a thing as a simple test for critical thinking?  Certainly a hoax discussion forum that selective would be a very quite place. 

It was never my intention, merely my dream of a perfect virtual world.

Offline BazBear

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #7 on: May 16, 2012, 03:18:12 PM »
I guess it's not a bad idea, but for someone like me who has rarely calculated volumes since H.S. (it'll be 30 years since graduation on the 30th) I had to look up the formulas for cones and cylinders.

Well, me being much younger, having graduated 13 days after you, I might have to derive them (which I can do, but that might get me into trouble on the time limit).  I had to guess about the formula for the volume of a cone, but I then derived it, and my guess was correct.

I would like the questions to be more on understanding the concepts, and not so much on the words used to describe them.  The first two questions seem very much on understanding/using the concepts, the last two are more about words/names.  I don't remember which law is Kepler's 1st law, although given sufficient time, paper, and ink, I could work out in full detail the equations describing a planet's orbit.  So someone could know Kepler's 1st law, without knowing that it is called Kepler's first law.

Just my preference . . .

So there are currently some questions on astronomy, and some on geometry.  Maybe some physics (problems involving basic motion of a projectile in a gravitational field, structure of the atom, some conservation of energy problem), chemistry (which element does this, which one does that, different types of chemical bonds), a few biology (maybe a genetics problem, and some general morphology questions, perhaps evolution).  Maybe some geology.
Well I did feel like dumbbutt about the cylinders; I could remember the area of a circle formula, so I should have recalled I just then needed to multiply by the height. I also remembered cones used a fraction, but I couldn't remember if it was 1/3 or 1/2. I have a mind like a steel trap....that is, rusty...  :D
"It's true you know. In space, no one can hear you scream like a little girl." - Mark Watney, protagonist of The Martian by Andy Weir

My Youtube Apollo playlist http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8SfyE9qsG8k&list=PL2aEC7cUMrGCNrtGMMWRXYob-kqCz2zz8

Offline Echnaton

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #8 on: May 16, 2012, 07:17:57 PM »
It was never my intention, merely my dream of a perfect virtual world.

I feel your pain!
The sun shone, having no alternative, on the nothing new. —Samuel Beckett

Offline ka9q

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Re: Scientific literacy question bank
« Reply #9 on: May 26, 2012, 08:36:52 PM »
Answers would be timed to prevent someone from Googling it.
I don't see anything wrong with using Google, as long as you get the right answer and can explain it.

I've always been a fan of open-book tests even though they've been among some of the hardest tests I've ever taken. It's all too easy for a closed-book test to become a simple test of memory regurgitation without comprehension.

A good open-book test is a much more realistic test of your ability to use all your existing resources (including references) to solve a novel problem. This is much closer to what an engineer like me has to do every day. For example, I have never seen the point in memorizing more than a tiny handful of math identities; it's much more important to know where to find one and how to apply it when I actually need to. Just as much of a general education involves learning how to learn, much of learning to be an engineer involves learning where and how to get the specific information you need to solve a particular problem.