Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2008/07/03/dumb_science_exams/

What powers a solar-powered snail, kids?

Dumb and dumber science exams

By Andrew Orlowski

Posted in Science, 3rd July 2008 12:06 GMT

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?

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

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?

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. ®