Science lite

England’s science exam for 14-year-olds requires little science knowledge, complains the Royal Society of Chemistry. Instead of chemistry, biology, physics or geology, the test requires students to “read English, compare graphs and do simple tasks,” critics complain.

Questions include:

Where does the energy come from for a solar-powered mole-scarer?

Sharon, pictured on the left, is riding her horse. She is wearing a riding hat. Give the name of one organ the riding hat protects.

Students were asked why electric wires are made from copper. The four possible answers were that copper was brown, was not magnetic, conducted electricity, or that it conducted heat.

What animal might have produced a star-shaped fossil? Choices are: a snail, a starfish, a ladybird or a slug.

Last year, students needed only 57 percent correct to pass. Twenty-seven percent failed. Presumably they lack reading skills.

Since 2000, England has dropped from fourth to 14th place in international science tests given to 15-year-olds.

Via Critical Mass.

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  1. >What animal might have produced a star-shaped fossil?
    >Choices are: a snail, a starfish, a ladybird or a slug.

    What the heck is a president’s widow doing on the list?

    I have to say this test looks like it was designed to make sure anyone who could read would pass. Let’s see, now, who in the world could benefit from a lot of kids getting undeserved passing grades on a science test? Choices are: a starfish, the educational establishment, Ladybird, or a slug.

  2. Elizabeth says:

    Ladybird is Brit for Ladybug.

  3. Supersub says:

    Sounds like the NY Living Environment (Bio) Regents exam. When the course was redesigned in 2000, much of the content was cut to focus on larger “concepts” such as if an organ in your body isn’t working, your survival might be affected. What organ? Doesn’t matter.
    In addition the test included more reading-heavy questions, many of which have been evaluated as requiring a 12th grade reading level (the course is usually taken by 9-10th graders). The changes make me wonder how many liberal arts majors are making the test.
    This isn’t a problem because of a huge curve… students generally only need around a 48% raw score to get a 65% final score.
    And New York is viewed as being one of the top education states in the country…