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What powers a solar-powered snail, kids?

Dumb and dumber science exams

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Boffins have slammed examiners in England for setting school children seriously dumb questions.

The Royal Chemistry Society said that the science exams for 14 year olds includes questions such as, "What powers a solar-powered snail?"

The Society's chief executive Dr Richard Pike told us that while the syllabus and text books covered a broad range of scientific subjects, the exams only touched on a small subset of these. As an example, the Society notes that one examination only asked questions about length, volume, mass and temperature, while the text book covered electrical current and resistance, pressure, rotational moment, and deriving.

The most taxing maths in the examination required students to find the mid point between 4 and 8 - by reading off a figure in an adjacent column.

The snail question was set for tiers 3-6 in Key Stage 3.

Other examples include these multiple choice questions:

Why is copper used for wires in a circuit?

  • Copper does not stick to a magnet
  • Copper is a brown metal
  • Copper is a good conductor of electricity
  • Copper is a good conductor of heat

In very cold weather a mixture of salt and sand is spread on roads. Why?

  • Salt makes the roads white
  • Salt makes water freeze
  • Salt makes ice melt
  • Sand dissolves in water
  • Sand increases friction between car tyres and the road
  • Sand makes water freeze

And this one, inspired by Father Ted, perhaps:

Some stars are bigger than the Sun but they look smaller. Why do they look smaller than the Sun?

  • They are brighter than the Sun
  • They are further away than the Sun
  • They are the same colour as the Sun
  • They are nearer than the Sun

That foxes me every time.

But seriously - who benefits most in the future from a population too dumb to distinguish between science and pseudoscience? Answers on a solar-powered snail, please. ®

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