This year, 24 7th grade groups completed their science projects on heat and cold. For two days, they treated nearly 450 of their classmates and relatives to a spectacular science show. During the program, they made ice and bubbles with dry ice, cooked pasta "sous-vide", vegetables and chocolate with a solar oven, melted gallium, turned on a motor, cooled an apple, assisted with the birth of a tardigrade, crystallized vanillin and sodium acetate, steered a levitating train, grew plants, studied volcanic lava, heaters, malleability of materials, mist and the liquid density.
At one point, the visitors were asked to answer a question on the science passport.
They were asked the weight of the Eiffel Tower and given a range between 99,000 and 110,000 tons. 75% of those present answered at the heavier end of the scale, when in fact the right answer was 10,000 tons! To be fair, they had been misled by one of the teachers who put forward the “heavy” proposal, but then, is a music teacher more likely to know the weight of the Eiffel Tower than you are?
Should we conclude that most people are bad scientists? Not really, because in answer to the second question (without any outside “help”), they thought the first microwave oven was sold in 1957. The correct answer was in fact, 1963. This proves that conferring as a group, and without undue influence, we can get closer to the truth. Collective intelligence rules!
-Adrien Gontier, Physics-Chemistry & Math teacher