Test your K-12 science knowledge

Originally published at: https://boingboing.net/2020/04/13/test-your-k-12-science-knowled.html


The second grade question is problematic because it assumes an experiential context for the question.

Better phrasing would be: “If you put a pan of water on the stove and boil it for a while, what happens to the water level?”

I missed the cell division question because I know just enough Latin to get myself in trouble :stuck_out_tongue:


I missed cell division and Oceanic crust. But it has been a loooong time since 12th grade for me.


Same. I’m pretty sure I never learned the crust one. I tried to reason it out, but clearly did it wrong.


The second grade question bothered me too. While the water is actively boiling , the “water level” would be higher because of the expanding steam bubbles. If you boil it for a bit and let steam escape, the level will be lower. If you boil water in a closed system (like a pot with a tight-fitting lid) and then let it cool to room temperature and condense, the water level will be the same as before.

The sixth grade question should probably say “molecules” rather than “atoms”, no?

I failed 10th and 11th grade.


I didn’t have to reason it out, because I trust all the science I learned from The Core.


Yeah, I’ve never heard of any high school that teaches geology. I took AP Physics in 11th grade, not Rocks for Jocks.

1 Like

We should replace Common Core with The Core in US science education


Kindergarteners are going to have a hard time understanding this song.


I got 2nd grade wrong. The correct answer is all of the above. When the water heats, it expands increasing the water level. Boiling causes evaporation which decreases the water level. At some point those two will cancel out.

Yeah, 6th grade is about molecules. The atoms in the gas molecules do not move freely from each other.

And genes are not a material. DNA works as an answer, but genes doesn’t really make sense

Where were the questions about fucking magnets? I was hoping to learn how they work


I watched The Core in 5th or 6th grade science class. It was one of those “finished the curriculum a day early” last day of school kind of things.

1 Like

I cheated and looked up both those questions because I didn’t remember it from 50 years ago.

Scientist - I agree and good, succinct summary of the answers. I answered the question from the viewpoint that the bubbles from boiling will increase the holdup as well.

That said, if we expose our 2nd graders to the proper answer of ‘it depends’, heaven help the teachers by 8th grade.


Aren’t those prefixes greek ?


Yes! Good catch!

Totally agree that the second grade question was oversimplified and potentially misleading. Just remember this is for second graders, so they’re just trying to make sure the kids know that the water vapor is escaping and will cause the water level to drop. Even though if you heat the water it will expand due to the heat so the question is technically wrong depending on how you interpret it.

The other one I missed was the cell division one, because that has never come up for me in real life and the terms weren’t quite memorable enough to stick around in my memory.

The Geology (oceanic crusts) one I had to work through in my head. It stands to reason that the crust covered in tons of water will be more compressed than the stuff that got pushed up and only has air on top of it. Plus we can probably assume that the heavier plates would slide under the lighter plates. I may or may not have learned that in school, I certainly don’t remember it anymore.

That second grade question brings up one test question that I do remember and has bothered me for ages.

Question: Trees get the majority of their mass from:

  1. The Sun
  2. The Air
  3. The Ground
  4. (some nonsensical answer)

My reasoning: More than 50% of the mass of a typical tree is water, which is pulled up from the roots, so #3. But the teacher marked it wrong because they wanted #2 (from Carbon Dioxide) and I couldn’t convince her that the question was bad. I’m still miffed about that to this day. It didn’t even really matter, but I was bothered by how sloppy the question was.


Even in kindergarten I knew the answer to the kindergarten question is less simple than it seems.

Is a dried flower alive? What about a squished ant? They might once have been alive, but are we speaking about a specific creature?

I was a very macabre child.


The question should have been worded to specify other than water.

edit: changed due to wrongness

Living trees, however, are very wet. In fact, although there can be great variation between tree species (and seasonally), a living tree may be made up of more than two thirds water by mass.



Having a surprisingly hard time finding good values on tree composition, but for healthy living trees what I can find points to well over 50% water mass. You’re right

1 Like