Family Life

a scientific question

Albert was telling us how he had a physics question on his test that he gave to his physics students. It said, “In a vacuum, what form does a marshmallow take? 1) Smaller 2) Larger 3) Flat and 4) Hollow, like a shell.” The answer is supposed to be larger because there is no atmospheric pressure in a vacuum state so the marshmallow puffs outward.

But because there are nontechnical people at the school he teaches at, he got a lot of answers that said, “Flat.” When he asked why, they said, “Because if you run it over with a vacuum cleaner, it will be flat!”

Albert’s mouth just about fell open, as that thought had never occurred to him. He said, “I have to rethink how I phrase things because I am just used to using scientific terms!” He decided to give them credit, as their answers were totally logical.

However, after telling this to our family, Megan said, ” Oh, that’s what I would have answered. I thought you were talking about a vacuum cleaner.”

I said to Albert, “Next time you should test all your questions on Megan and you might get an accurate assessment of how your students will perceive the answers!”

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