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Jokes/Interweb Things Thread, ACTUAL Science GCSE Question ... I Despair! in Fun Stuff; GCSE Science (Edexcel, 2006) Our moon seems to disappear during an eclipse. Some people say this is because an old ...
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    somabc's Avatar
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    ACTUAL Science GCSE Question ... I Despair!

    GCSE Science (Edexcel, 2006)

    Our moon seems to disappear during an eclipse. Some people say this is because an old lady covers the moon with her cloak. She does this so that thieves cannot steal the shiny coins on the surface. Which of these would help scientists to prove or disprove this idea?

    A) Collect evidence from people who believe the lady sees the thieves

    B) Shout to the lady that the thieves are coming

    C) Send a probe to the moon to search for coins

    D) Look for fingerprints
    Has it come to this? Can we have some science next time?

    I can't even work this out, are any of these valid answers?

    A) would only collect some 'interesting' statements from lunatics, and it also takes as read that this 'lady' exists. For Example if I were to interview everyone who believed in god, I would not have any evidence at all to prove or disprove his existence.

    B) Shout into the sky to a non existent giant space 'lady', who would not even hear you, space is a vacuum remember.

    C) You try getting funding to send a space probe to the moon to search for coins, plus this ignores the giant lady, her cloak and thieves, how about looking for them as well perhaps with a telescope?

    D) Look for fingerprints of what/where? Go to the moon and fingerprint rocks?
    Last edited by somabc; 28th March 2009 at 09:18 PM.

  2. #2

    Little-Miss's Avatar
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    No wonder they want to make them harder!!

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    It does sound a) ridiculous and b) not GCSE level, but it is nonetheless a question on the methodology of scientific investigation. One could argue it is designed to be a nonsense scenario so that it is deliberately far removed from any genuine scenario that the student might have seen before and therefore have learned a wrote answer for.

    I would say C is the answer they are looking for. It's not especially sensible for the reasons somabc stated, but it is at least the approach that makes some logical sense. If your probe does not find any coins, it demonstrates the theory is incorrect. The other 3 options do not do this because:

    • A only provides anecdotal evidence
    • B would only help the old lady hide the coins from the thieves, it doesn't establish either way the existence of any of them
    • D would be fruitless as if the old lady is hiding the coins the theives (if they exist) will never find them to leave any fingerprints


    Lastly, it's a good job you posted this late at night, as there's no way I could hold my attention this long on it while awake and sober.

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    powdarrmonkey's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by AngryTechnician View Post
    I would say C is the answer they are looking for. It's not especially sensible for the reasons somabc stated, but it is at least the approach that makes some logical sense. If your probe does not find any coins, it demonstrates the theory is incorrect.
    There are actually two distinct actions here:
    1. The old lady covers the moon with her cloak
    2. The old lady believes that thieves will steal the coins from the moon, should they exist

    Now, whilst sending a probe to look for coins may disprove the theory that there are coins on the surface, it does not disprove either of the two actions: the old lady may still believe that there are coins, because she is a stubborn mule; and her covering the moon with her cloak may be completely independent of her belief that there are thieves, coins and scientists involved.

    The only way to prove or disprove the theory is to witness the old lady in action, or else not witness her and conclude that the probability of her existence is less than the probability that you missed her at the crucial moment.

    All that aside, whilst I agree it's trying to get you to look at methodology, it's still a stupid question (because none of the available options help you one iota).
    Last edited by powdarrmonkey; 29th March 2009 at 12:46 AM. Reason: why am I writing this so late at night, and taking it seriously??

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    Quote Originally Posted by powdarrmonkey View Post
    There are actually two distinct actions here:
    Which makes this a particularly rubbish question - it says "Which of these would help scientists to prove or disprove this idea?" Which idea - there are two of them listed!

    The whole paper is online here. It's a foundation/higher tier paper and that question is taken from the foundation only section so it is supposed to be easy but it's also supposed to be a valid test of scientific understanding!

    What exactly does question 3 test other than an ability to read words and understand what "between" means?

    Question 7 asks about using eyes for identification; I presume it's asking about retinal scanners but I might claim that I use my eyes to identify people everywhere!

    Question 8 asks which kind of radiation causes skin cancer and damages eyes. I'd guess the "right" answer is ultra-violet but I feel like exposing the examiner to a good dose of gamma rays or X rays to find out how quickly cancer would develop!! (answer: quite quickly if there's enough of it!)

    What on earth is the answer to question 19? I'd guess you're supposed to pick B but surely that's wrong? You can get more digital channels into the same bandwidth as analogue but surely that's because you're throwing information away, not because you're sending more of it!

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    Well at the moment i am doing science GCSE and yes it is as easy as that, they have made it easier by adding questions based on the new part of education of "how science works" it gives us soemthing to make sense of, it may seem easy now but they don't actually use proper grammar in the questions. Also in year 10 there are two tests for science (on each chem,bio and phy) and they are both multiple choice (all questions multiple choice)

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by somabc View Post
    Has it come to this? Can we have some science next time?

    I can't even work this out, are any of these valid answers?

    A) would only collect some 'interesting' statements from lunatics, and it also takes as read that this 'lady' exists. For Example if I were to interview everyone who believed in god, I would not have any evidence at all to prove or disprove his existence.

    B) Shout into the sky to a non existent giant space 'lady', who would not even hear you, space is a vacuum remember.

    C) You try getting funding to send a space probe to the moon to search for coins, plus this ignores the giant lady, her cloak and thieves, how about looking for them as well perhaps with a telescope?

    D) Look for fingerprints of what/where? Go to the moon and fingerprint rocks?
    they used to say there are no right or wrong answers in papers such as history and english. Pretty soon i reckon it'll apply to the sciences if this is the precursor of things to come.

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    PeterW's Avatar
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    This is a joke right?

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    Quote Originally Posted by PeterW View Post
    This is a joke right?
    The rest of the paper that was linked to looks legit so either it's a well-executed hoax or that was actually in the exam.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwanseaCity View Post
    Well at the moment i am doing science GCSE and yes it is as easy as that, they have made it easier by adding questions based on the new part of education of "how science works" it gives us soemthing to make sense of, it may seem easy now but they don't actually use proper grammar in the questions. Also in year 10 there are two tests for science (on each chem,bio and phy) and they are both multiple choice (all questions multiple choice)
    Well it had to happen sometime... let's make EVERYTHING multiple choice and completely disregard the ability to arrive at your own conclusions - not those set out ahead of time.

    This sort of thing really... makes my blood boil. I did GCSE's 13 years ago and only a small fraction of it was multiple choice, you had to actually REVISE and STUDY to have any hope of passing.

    Ah well... that's progress for you it seems.

    Az

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    in yr 11 there are many science tests and none of those are multiple choice.

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    torledo's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by azrael78 View Post
    Well it had to happen sometime... let's make EVERYTHING multiple choice and completely disregard the ability to arrive at your own conclusions - not those set out ahead of time.

    This sort of thing really... makes my blood boil. I did GCSE's 13 years ago and only a small fraction of it was multiple choice, you had to actually REVISE and STUDY to have any hope of passing.

    Ah well... that's progress for you it seems.

    Az
    it's only mimicking the trend in the real world, driving theory test is multiple choice, most IT cert exams are multiple choice, most employer aptitude tests are multiple choice....presumably multiple choice papers mean you can do away with examinaters as the papers can be fed into a machine which can analyse the ticks in the correct boxes, or examtakers will be able to take GCSE exams from a computer in the exam hall and get instant results....no arsing around waiting for results to appear months later.

    I genuinely think this can work for some exam subjects. ofcourse there will be a lot of woe about the decline of standards, so i don't expect it to take over, but if colleges and uni's are finding it hard because of the number of A grade or A-C grade candidates, it really should be the case that institiutions should be setting their own entrance exams if they aren't happy to allow entry based on new GCSE results from multiple choice tests.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SwanseaCity View Post
    Well at the moment i am doing science GCSE and yes it is as easy as that, they have made it easier by adding questions based on the new part of education of "how science works" it gives us soemthing to make sense of, it may seem easy now but they don't actually use proper grammar in the questions. Also in year 10 there are two tests for science (on each chem,bio and phy) and they are both multiple choice (all questions multiple choice)
    Yep im doing that too.

    There's always a question that seems to have two answers to fit it just to confuse us

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    mrcrazy04's Avatar
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    I'm sure I remember my GCSE Science exam being harder than that. We had to do graphs and outline procedures and so on.
    Mind you, that was on Double Award which I believe they've now abolished, and it was nearly 4 years ago now!

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    Quote Originally Posted by azrael78 View Post
    Well it had to happen sometime... let's make EVERYTHING multiple choice and completely disregard the ability to arrive at your own conclusions - not those set out ahead of time.
    There's nothing wrong with the principle of multiple choice and they've been used successfully for many years (it's over 35 years since I did O Levels and some of the papers I tool were multiple choice) although there is a need to have other kinds of question so that candidates are encouraged to demonstrate more of wha they understand.

    The key thing is setting the paper in such a way that the candidate does have to draw their own conclusions. The "distractors" should be chosen such that they are all plausible to most candidates and only the best candidates will be able to get the right answer. Good questions in science might need you to do a calculation from data provided - eg the gravitational force exerted on a spaceship orbiting a moon at a distance of 200,000m from the surface is 100,000N. What will the force be when the spaceship is at a distance of 400,000m from the surface (the moon has a diameter of 500,000 metres)?

    (I'm not going to try and work out the answer and the distractors - it's Suinday evening and I'm just waiting for dinner to finish cooking! - but the maths is trivial if you can remember "inverse square law" but easy to get wrong if you only half remember what that means. The key thing is that the distance doesn't double but goes from 450,000 to 650,000; distractors would be based on not realising that.

    In lots of ways, exams have got better over the years - it wasn't uncommon to get questions at Chemistry A Level like "Discuss the chemistry of elements in group 4 of the periodic table" which is likely to just lead to a list of features of the elements that have been learned by heart with absolutely no understanding!

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