Wednesday, September 01, 2010

Intro to Science - Day 1 question

So a new semester begins again and I have a new question to get my students to start thinking logically and in a scientific frame of mind. (my previous Intro question)

Which one of these boxes is not like the others? Explain your answer.

So far, out of the people I have asked (before my lab actually started):
      Undergrad - 1 answer which was wrong (did not answer the question)
      Brand New Grad Student - 2 answers both of which were wrong (did not answer the question)
      Finishing Masters Student - 3 answers all correct
      Finishing PhD Student - ~6 answers although needed to be coaxed to actually answer the question

My conclusions are that the more education you have the more you over think the question.


  1. My first thought was the box in the middle - because it was next to two other boxes instead of just one. But your comment about ignoring their placement makes that unlikely.

    So it's probably the box surrounding the three gray boxes.

  2. Hmm, I should remove the phrase then. I just meant it by the placement of the boxes in relation to the edge of the page (they are closer to the right side of my screen) or something to that effect. But I will fix that now.

    The middle box seems to be the most popular but it is by no means the only answer.

  3. Although your statement about the more education the viewer has does have some interesting connotations.

    It would be interesting to see how many different answers/reasons a person gives based on their background/training.

  4. So far I have given it to 1 lab of Intro to Geology students and the majority of the answers either came back wrong (all are the same, all are different, or I drew this on this one so it is different) or they came back as the middle one is different.

    But I would be interested to see how different people view the problem.

  5. I can come up with at least one reason why each of the 4 boxes are different (since you didn't mean one's in the middle, etc by ignore placement); if I assume the outlines are separate boxes instead of outlines, then it's 9 boxes with at least one reason (not counting color).

  6. yeah, I'm going with the box surrounding the 3 grey boxes because you say its "thinking outside the box".

  7. It is meant to be just the 3 grey boxes with black outlines. The outlines are not meant to be separate boxes and the white box does not qualify.

    And placement among themselves is important.

  8. The white box does not qualify as its own box, that is just an artifact of the picture loading process (finishing off thought).

  9. The answer is 0.They all look like they belong together


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