CATEGORY: COL Columns (Journal)

AUTHOR: MARTY

HED:Seniors are sophomoric when it comes to science

By Marty Russell

Daily Journal

A report issued Tuesday by the National Assessment Governing Board, an agency created by Congress to monitor the progress of American students in five subject areas, concludes that 43 percent of U.S. high school seniors are dumb as rocks when it comes to the subject of science.

In fact, even those of us who consider ourselves up on the subject apparently could use a refresher course. For instance, here's an actual sample question from one of the tests administered to 130,000 students in the fourth, eighth and 12th grades:

Q: A certain organism has many cells, each containing a nucleus. If the organism makes its own food, it would be classified as:

a) a bacterium

b) a fungus

c) a plant

d) an animal

Did you get the right answer? I wouldn't have. I would have written in "e) a single person" and been summarily marched down to the principal's office. The correct answer, of course, is C.

So in the interest of raising the level of scientific ignorance in the area and generally confusing the issue, I've compiled a short little science quiz of my own that you can all take at home.

Cheating, of course, is encouraged but the excuse, "A demon ate my homework," will not be considered legitimate unless the student is accompanied by said demon.

Ready? Begin.

QUESTION NO. 1: Where does the extra hour come from that we get this Sunday when the time changes?

a) Nowhere

b) A vault at the U.S. Naval Observatory next to where they keep the "official" atomic clock

c) It's the same one used by the Southern Hemisphere. They just give it back at the start of their spring and the beginning of our fall under an international treaty arrangement.

d) The Time/Life Corp.

QUESTION NO. 2: Name a primary indicator of Alzheimer's disease.

a) Memory loss.

b) Coach Tommy Tuberville violating the Mississippi Juvenile Tobacco Access Act of 1997 by handing out cigars to Ole Miss football players.

c) Dallas Cowboys coach Barry Switzer trying to board a plane with a loaded gun.

d) Believing that Congress is really serious about campaign finance reform.

QUESTION NO. 3: What are the basic building blocks of the universe?

a) Atoms and subatomic particles such as quarks, mesons and winos.

b) The Lego 5000 set.

c) Gravity, electromagnetism and Jell-O.

d) The ones always occupied by some little old person living in squalor who refuses to give them up to make way for a multimillion-dollar development.

QUESTION NO. 4: El Nino is ...

a) A massive weather system spawned by warmer than normal waters off the coast of South America that is expected to cause a wetter than normal winter for the U.S.

b) A juvenile delinquent in Tijuana.

c) A member of a World Wrestling Federation tag team known collectively as Montezuma's Revenge.

d) Spanish for, "You have a jumping bean up your nose."

QUESTION NO. 5: Scientists recently created a headless frog for what reason?

a) As a precursor to creating headless human clones that could be harvested as embryos for organ transplants.

b) As a gag for Halloween.

c) They're easier to gig.

d) They were going to croak anyway.

If you answered A to all of the above questions, congratulations, you could probably beat 43 percent of the nation's high school seniors in a game of Go Fish.

If you answered otherwise to any of the questions, then you probably are a high school senior.

Marty Russell is senior reporter for the Daily Journal

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