Friday, May 11, 2012

What's that Molecule? U.S. NAEP Edition

I can be a bit rough on a few topics 'round these parts. Chemophobia. Unscientific rumors. Coloring-book abstracts. And, of course, the interesting Internet images of chemists - always white lab coats, intense gazes...and nonsensical atomic scrawls in the background. Up to now, however, I've tried to joke about it, and then offer small suggestions to improve them.

Her smile means she knows the structural joke...
Source: 2009 NAEP | U.S. Dept. of Education
Here's one that actually threw me: the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP) has just released their 2011 National "Scientific Report Card" for U.S. middle schoolers (I'll comment more on what it says in a future post). Linking out from NAEP's site, I found this document, clocking in at 155 pages, which explains the scientific framework for this testing, and the methods used to assay student knowledge. Look at the cover image, of a young girl smiling as she discovers the joy of chemical modeling kits...

...What is that molecule, anyway? Anyone recognize it? It has a terminal "-CO3" group, and some sort of terminal methylene on the other end. I couldn't think of a reasonable answer, except the dreaded posed picture possibility.

High irony, that this picture appears on the front of a document about, education!


  1. Ok, let's all go get those nasty big gumdrops and some toothpicks and make fake molecules! Yellow is for sulfur, black is for carbon...

    1. That sounds both delicious and highly educational. +1

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