Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Scientific Riddles

JJ had just survived her first term exams last week. About a week prior to the exams, mother and daughter worked very hard. Today, JJ received some of her exam papers. She did quite well in some of the subjects, but sadly, she didn't do too well in some papers.

I was, however, happy to note that she got 89% for her science exam. That is quite a big thing for a 7-year-old kid. I can imagine that some of the parents would not be happy with anything below 95%, but I'm easily satisfied. These grades don't really mean much as far as I am concerned. Of course if my JJ is fated to become the best student in her school some day, I would be very pleased. But if she ends up somewhere in the middle of the pack, I'd be satisfied anyway. After all, too many young people with excellent diplomas and university degrees can't do very much in the real world these days.

Out of curiosity, I glanced through JJ's science papers. And I couldn't help but smiled to myself when I see the kind of questions they set for science these days—most of them look very much like riddles to me; not very scientific. But I will let you judge for yourselves.

Consider the above riddle. The picture shows 2 slices of fish, the thigh of a large animal, and a spring chicken. And the question asks: The picture above shows the food that__________.

The kids had 3 choices: A) Helps us grow, B) Gives us energy, and C) Helps us stay healthy.

Maybe some of my readers are doctors or at least nutritionists. Perhaps they can help us out with this scientific riddle. It seems to me that those food can help us grow, can give us energy, as well as can help us stay healthy. Interesting riddle, huh?

Yet another interesting question: Which of the following is not the clothes for a four month old baby?

Option A is a picture of what appears to be a swimming suit. Option B appears to be a pair of socks. Option C appears to be a shirt/dress.

I find this question a bit amusing because I can still remember when JJ was about 4 to 5 months old, we went to Rasa Ria Resort one weekend with Leon and his family. And we put a tiny swimsuit on JJ before bringing her into the pool. I did not know that the swimsuit was not supposed to be worn by a baby that young. I don't know why people make tiny swimsuits.

In my opinion, Malaysia will take many, many generations from now before we can produce our very own Einsteins and Newtons. But I hope I am wrong.


Sarah said...

Well done JJ! I don't remember doing any science before age 11, although arguably that second question is not science. :)

Teo said...

Oh, the first Q was so confusing. May be one need to know meat provides protein and protein builds blaxblaxbla in human bodies. Wow, I prefer answering your treasure hunt's Q, at least the answers are explainable. Now I am starting to get worried how my six years old daughter will cope with Primary 1 and those 'stupid' Qs in the exams. Or may be I should bring her to some hunts so she can think outside the box and answer that Q - Too much of all those meat will lead us to blaxblaxbla .......

Cornelius said...

No, Sarah, it's not really science, but these people had to satisfy the requirements of the education system somehow. Like I said, it will probably take a long time before Malaysia can produce its own Einsteins.

Cornelius said...


Don't worry about it, my friend. After all, what these kids learn in school are mainly for the certificates only.

These kids are trained to memorize, i.e. "think" as the educators would like to term it. But in the real world, where they are supposed to solve problems and make tough decisions, very few of them can do well. That's where we parents, hopefully, can come in for the rescue. Read this.

Anonymous said...

Parents can help to a certain extent but after years of torturing to memorise rather to think, the poor child would grow up being a robot. This is the system Chinese schools adopt now and to my surprise, there are still many parents sending their children there.

I heard of cases that students are forced to memorise composition for popular topics. Students scoring 99% are caned for being careless as they have the potential to score 100%. Bright students are grouped together in a class and pushed to be super robots. They would need extra classes during holidays to perfect them as robots that will score straight As and indirectly advertising for the school.

Something is terribly wrong here. Extra classes should be for the weak and those struggling. The school has lost their mission.

Yet, parents forced themselves into these robot producing schools and suffer the pressure together with their child. Typical parents would be like your wife, studying together with the child, doing tonnes of homework with them, sacrificing weekends, holidays and would be terribly upset when a mark dropped here and there. I know of parents crying when their child can't finish their homework.

The discipline in these schools are so strict that they will control your hair style, how fast you walk etc. Children should have some space......, grow up as children, learn to love the outdoor, rough it out.........

Let them think, not memorise.

Have you ever receive a call from those telemarketing companies? They are so structured that if you start asking them questions or interupting them mid way, they will be so chaotic, ha ha ha....... They can never adapt to situations, learn to think outside the box and be creative.

Cornelius said...

Anonymous friend,

I can agree with most of your comments except for some.

This system of emphasis on memory work is equally adopted in all the schools in Malaysia. However, because of the nature of the Chinese language which has no letters of the alphabet, students have no other way to learn it except by memorising the characters.

I'm quite OK with a system which develops the memory capacity in these kids, because I am a firm believer that the human brains have practically limitless capacity. Having said that, however, I wish that our educators would also put a bit more emphasis on developing the problem-solving and decision-making skills. So far we have only heard of steps being taken to do so, but based on the results, we know that nothing much has been done in that direction.

As for sending children to the Chinese schools, I am one of those parents who would choose the Chinese schools for as long as I have that choice! It's not so much about the system they adopt; rather, I want my child to learn the language.

It is a known fact that, generally speaking, Chinese kids don't have bright prospects working in the Government offices. IF - IF, I say - they do get into the government offices at all, there is very, very limited scope for them to go all the way to the top, no matter how brilliant they are. The only way to realise their full potential is to fight it out in the rest of the job market. And there, the Chinese language is a clear advantage.

I should know, because I'm in the private sector, and I feel so disadvantaged for not knowing Mandarin! Thank goodness I know Hakka, since it is still widely used in KK.

Therefore, my JJ shall endure it for at least 6 years in a Chinese school whether she likes it or not. At the same time, we will see to it that she develops her English from home. She will thank us when she eventually goes into the job market.

As for teaching these kids to think and solve problems, I can't agree with you more. But alas, I think that is just too much to expect from the schools. So, as I said, it's up to the parents to do that part.

Anonymous said...

"It is a known fact that, generally speaking, Chinese kids don't have bright prospects working in the Government offices."

Known FACT? Are you sure? Have you any statistics to support this?

Cornelius said...


Known FACT?

Yes, it is a KNOWN FACT. Why, are you surprised?

Are you sure?

Never been surer!

Have you any statistics to support this?

Afraid not. But there is no need for statistics. You can have a fun way to prove it. Start compiling all the Government departments and all the names of the big bosses there. Write or print them on a piece of paper. Then paste that paper on the wall. Stand about 8ft away, throw a dart and try to hit that paper. See if you can hit 5 Chinese names out of 100 throws.

scute said...

I am Chinese and was with the government for 16 years before I left. Looking back, I wondered what took me so long because what Cornelius said is true, very true.