*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:

- A polygon with 5 sides is called what?
- 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 6*s*^{2}. 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.

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This entry was posted on January 7, 2008 at 12:01 am and is filed under Competitions, K-12 Teaching, Problems. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed.
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January 11, 2008 at 10:11 pm |

[…] 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! […]