“Double Down” Dumbs It Down


Double Down is a quiz show for New York State high school students that airs on PBS (WCNY to be specific). I happened to catch a rerun last night, and one of the categories was “Math”. Here are a couple of the questions:

  1. A polygon with 5 sides is called what?
  2. A polygon with 8 sides is called what?

These are high school students, remember. My 20-month old daughter knows what an octagon is. Can we give these kids some credit?!

Then there was this one (emphasis mine):

What is the perimeter of this right triangle?


Read that again. It really says “right triangle”. And the contestant guessed 50. Fifty!

I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by the “tough” final question:

The surface area of a cube with side s is 6s2. What is the surface area of a cube with a side of length 4 inches?

Math wasn’t the only subject that had softballs. How about this question in English Language Arts:

What verb tense indicates an action that occurred in the past?

Yes, the answer is the “past tense”.

In fairness, I will say that some of the other questions were challenging. How many high school freshmen know what a tropism is? But it bugs me that they appear to be passing off math questions as hard simply because they are math questions.

One Response to ““Double Down” Dumbs It Down”

  1. Junk Food Geometry « 360 Says:

    […] Many crackers are in the form of circles, and it’s possible that some of the oval crackers are actually ellipses. (I sense a future investigation.) And that’s not all! Cheerios®, bagels, and donuts all provide examples of tori, Hershey’s Kisses® make great cones, and of course there are the cans of hyperbolic paraboloids. Hmmm….maybe the producers of “Double Down” should take a field trip to the grocery store to brainstorm some of their next geometry questions! […]

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