vetovian wrote:In physics problem sets, one is typically given some description of some physical setup and asked to calculate something or other.
But, see, here's the thing. Quiz bowl science != actual "academic" science. I'd like to pretend I'm a scientist, and I haven't done a physics problem set in almost three years. I have, however, written and answered plenty of physics questions. If you look at ACF Fall 2006 you will even see that I wrote a bonus asking for a simple calculation to demonstrate understanding of frames of reference. What you seem to be proposing is, "hey, I'm going to take this example/exercise out of my physics textbook and convert it into a bonus", which will result in somewhere over 90% of teams being unable to do the following: identify which laws apply in the situation described, which of those laws is necessary to solve the problem, and then plug the numbers in to that law and calculate the answer; all in the space of five seconds or however long you have to answer the bonus part. There's a reason quiz bowl is a game of "quick recall" rather than "solving ten of these kinds of problems over the course of a week".
Yes, I understand that's why it's not feasible to take an example or exercise out of a physics textbook and convert it into a bonus, much as I might like to do that for the purpose of seeing whether the team understands the physics. But I think that if you go through the whole textbook, you can find some problems that have some core idea that can be adapted to quiz bowl. Just to throw out an example, one could ask for the direction of some vector that could be determined by using the right-hand rule. Maybe this has been done. As for computations, it's worth noting that the ACF rules
actually specify "25 seconds per part unless otherwise specified on a calculation bonus."
We've had several threads explaining that quiz bowl literature does not reflect what is learned in actual literature classes, quiz bowl history does not accurately reflect what is learned in actual history classes, quiz bowl geography is about as far removed from "academic" geography as one can get, etc. Anyone who studies any of these areas will tell you that in no way does quiz bowl "tells who understands" that area. Like it or not, science is the exact same way, and the only reason it's ever been treated differently is that you need a lot more science experience to write a good question on Raman scattering than poetry reading experience to write a good question on "Tintern Abbey".
I'm not sure science is quite the same as those other subjects, in the sense that in science there are objective factual answers
, and the difficulty in adapting academic science to quizbowl lies in ratcheting down the difficulty level to a game of quick recall (and five-second bonus conferrals). Can we say the same about literature, history, and geography -- that there are questions with definite factual answers that take too long to figure out in a quiz bowl game? I'm just asking because I'm curious and would be surprised if it's true.
"Name this effect" is quiz bowl science. In the same way that asking a question on, say, Andrew Jackson allows people who rarely if ever encounter Andrew Jackson in their coursework to (1) judge the validity of a given answer and (2) actually answer such a question, asking a question on the Zeeman effect allows people with only a layman's knowledge to (1) judge whether a given answer is correct and (2) actually answer such a question. Asking "What happens when you send a beam of electrons through a magnetic field?" (note: I recognize that this question has no one right answer, but I'm just using science-sounding BS) is comparable to "What happens at the end of Jane Eyre?". It's writing a question in reverse. I as the person answering the question should be able to listen to a description of the end of some novel and conclude that the answer is Jane Eyre, not be given the novel and have to provide the ending. Similarly, I should expect the question writer to provide clues about the uses, interpretation, etc. of the Zeeman effect rather than have to come up with "spectral lines are split in the presence of a magnetic field" to the question "What does the Zeeman effect say?". Besides, I think knowing that there is a similar but different effect called the Stark Effect and a specialized case called the Paschen-Back Effect is just as important as knowing what is the Zeeman Effect.
Let me first clarify that when I suggest more bonus questions of the form "if you do such-and-such a thing on such-and-such lab equipment, what happens?"
I don't mean literally asking "what happens?"
Instead, I mean asking things like "what kind of particle is emitted?" or "what are the chemical products of the reaction?" or "what is the direction of the vector?" or "what is the change in pressure?" or "how much radiation is emitted at the new temperature?" A bonus part about the Zeeman effect could get into specifics by saying: when a magnetic field is applied to such-and-such, how many spectral lines does the original line split into?
And as worded, "What happens at the end of Jane Eyre
?" wouldn't work in quizbowl, but I don't think anyone would complain about the form of a bonus part that asked, for example, "Who dies at the end of Jane Eyre
?" This would be a case where you are "given the novel and have to provide the ending" (or more precisely, some fact about the ending).
vetovian wrote:Yes, it's easier to test "do you know the name?" But it's not how you tell who understands the science.
This is ridiculous. I have never, ever used the Stefan-Boltzmann law. I know from quiz bowl that it involves black bodies and something about power being proportional to the fourth power of temperature. I would likely buzz with "Stefan-Boltzmann" if the question described a law involving temperature to the fourth power, and I could certainly fraud both (A1) and (B1) with absolutely no understanding at all of what the Stefan-Boltzmann Law is or why it's used. On a well-written question on Stefan-Boltzmann, a player with more knowledge is almost always going to beat me, as I have to wait for the stock giveaway clues. On the other hand, if both my hypothetical opponent and I can answer (A1), we must clearly both understand the science, which is completely false.
Again, I was referring to (A1) and (B1) as bonus parts, not as tossups. I'm puzzled how you say you can "fraud" (A1) "with absolutely no understanding at all" (your phrase) "of what the Stefan-Boltzmann Law is". It's true that you can answer it without having a clue what blackbody radiation is, but you do have to know that whatever it is, it's proportional to T^4, and that's more science than the fact that this relationship is called the Stefan-Boltzmann Law.
Should there be bonuses with parts like that? I'd be hard-pressed to find anyone pressing for the elimination of such questions. But claiming that it better tests "who understands the science" than the form currently in vogue is patently ridiculous.
Correct me if you're not referring to (B1) as being in "the form currently in vogue", but I honestly don't understand what's "patently ridiculous" about saying that (A1) tests understanding of science better
(A1) "If a blackbody radiates 100 watts at 100 kelvin, if nothing else changes, how much will it radiate if the temperature is raised to 200 kelvin?"
(B1) "Name the law that says that blackbody radiation is directly proportional to the fourth power of absolute temperature."
Question (A1) is much closer than question (B1) to the type of thing one might find on a physics problem set or quiz.
I have no problem with a three-part bonus whose answers are: some law, some result from the law, some simple math calculation showing understanding of the law. As Matt and I both point out, such questions do exist, and I don't think you've ever addressed that point.
I did say that example (A1) is my recollection of a question from this SCT. I don't remember the other parts of that particular bonus, but I agree that "name of law / some result from law / simple math calc showing understanding of the law" is better than "name these effects, 10 points each", even if I'd rather not ask the "name of law" part in your example.
But if all the science bonuses look like that, there's going to be a revolt from the humanities players demanding bonuses on which literary critic said what about some novel and what three different historiography works no one cares about say about some event.
You make the analogies that
science is to questions about "some result of a scientific law & simple math calc showing understanding of that law"
as literature is to questions about literary criticism
and as history is to questions about works of historiography.
But I see problems with those analogies. Science is about
results of scientific laws and equations. In the academy, litterateurs may discuss literary criticism, but literary criticism is still about literary texts. Historians may discuss historiography, but historiography is still about historic events. Asking for some result of a scientific law and a simple math calculation showing understanding of that law is more analogous to asking questions about plot elements, names of characters, and names of settings in a literary work, or to asking questions about names of persons and institutions, dates and locations of historic events. And although we obviously need to use some vocabulary to talk about anything in science, that vocabulary doesn't come handed down from the creator the way literary titles and names of characters do. (And as an aside, names given to historical events don't always come handed down from a creator, either, so I had a quibble with an SCT bonus that Matt quoted, that began, "It took place on June 30 and July 1, 1934. For 10 points each -- A. Name this fateful weekend, on which hundreds of people were killed by the Nazis. answer: The Night of the Long Knives (or Nacht der langen Messer)"
Even if only for the purpose of definiteness, this part should have stated who gave it that name -- apparently Adolf Hitler
himself, in a Reichstag speech two weeks later.)
And now about "accessibility":
And yes, my slippery-slope argument ends with bonus conversion pathetically low and quiz bowl becoming even more elitist than it is now.
Then again, all we want to do is make science questions even more inaccessible to those that don't knows the science. Right?
0. You've done nothing to address the fact that your proposal is reducing (and sometimes massively so) the accessibility of what is already the least accessible major category in quizbowl. If we're talking about actual quizbowl and how to ask actual questions in actual tournaments, you should address that because it's actually the most important point.
How do you evaluate how accessible a question is? What makes (B1) more accessible than (A1), as I think you've been saying? It seems to me that the difference is that the answer to (B1) is more easily memorized (or, probably more commonly, is remembered after it's heard in quizbowl packets). So players pick up the superficial knowledge of the law's name from quizbowl or from rote learning, and so it's "fraud" knowledge in a way. If (B1) is more accessible than (A1), I argue, it's for artificial
reasons. The reduced accessibility of science bonuses that would result from my proposal is then a good thing that provides an incentive for players to learn what the science is about and also increases the relative value of science specialists to a team.
1. Regarding the theorem whose name you don't know, it is a form of Helmholtz's theorem, but it may be derived as a special case of a number of other things. However, this gives me a very good example of how one can (and, indeed, does) test forms of science knowledge that aren't the names of theorems without resorting to computation. One could just as easily ask a question on, say, "potential functions" since the name of that theorem isn't particularly important. In fact, the last time I asked about that theorem, that was the answer.
Yes, that one sounds good. It does ask for a name, but "potential functions" is a common enough name, and the question avoids computation.
2. Regarding your Stefan-Boltzmann question (A1), the problem with it is that you have to specify that you have an ideal classical blackbody for which no other mechanisms of heat transfer than radiation are important (in fact, at such low temperatures, other heat transfer mechanisms would likely dominate if any are available.) I'm sure Richard Feynman would tell you that if he were around today. Now, it took me 3 lines to say that here. This would be fine on a physics problem set and even if did get it wrong there, the students would just come ask me what I was talking about but, in quizbowl, we're running into problems.
Anyway, this is a good example of what I'm talking about. It's not clear to me what laws you want to apply not because of my or Richard Feynman's ignorance of the subject of heat transfer, but because you don't have the space (since this is a quizbowl question) or expertise (since not all question writers are science professors, as is the case for, say, writers of physics problem sets) to unambiguously specify what law you want me to use. This is just going to keep happening.
(A1) was what I could remember of an SCT question. Did you see it, and if you did, are you dissatisfied with its wording? OK, you're right, the question would have to say that it's considering radiation only.
3. Regarding the fact that your proposal seems to promote simple memorization of a small set of arithmetical operations, your response does nothing to eliminate that fact. Again, you'd just have people memorizing and performing fairly simple arithmetical operations every time they hear some law's name or some situation. I continue to fail to see why that's better that testing knowledge of the name, your emphasis of do aside.
It's the difference between knowing the name of an equation and knowing the content
of that equation. I think that difference is significant.
4. Regarding keeping the arithmetic simple, again, the situations in which you can keep the arithmetic simple are comparatively few. Moreover, the ability to do arithmetic, even relatively simple arithmetic like "take the fourth power of 2 and multiply it by 100," is massively de-emphasized in real science at the college level and testing it will very likely screw over people with deep knowledge of a subject that isn't "do arithmetic quickly" (*raises hand*). So, your questions are moving further away from testing skills and knowledge important to actual scientists.
I sympathize, but that is one reason why we have teams answering bonuses: to take advantage of players' different abilities. Some may know the science, and others may be better at doing arithmetic.
Also, your classification of White as a book that presents important results without their traditional labels is a gross micharacterization. Indeed, most of the names of concepts from fluid mechanics that I know I learned from that very book.
I didn't realize that I classified White's book as anything (other than "a textbook for graduate-level courses in fluid mechanics"). I gave a single example of a result that the book presents without its traditional label. So OK, I classify it as a book that presents at least one important result without its traditional label; if you disagree with that characterization, let me know why.
What do you see wrong with writing a bonus that asked to name classes of levers, other than the fact that doing so may result in a beating from yourself? Seriously, I gave my reasons why I would have a problem with such a bonus, but your "reasons" don't strike me as being intellectually satisfying. If there's a very simple reason, then it should be very simple to explain. As you probably know, there are lots of educational websites that describe
the three classes of levers, besides Wikipedia.
I've stopped responding seriously to anything you are saying because you either lack the reading comprehension to understand the points that people have been trying to get across to you, or you are so obstinate that no matter what people say you just continue ignoring all their points.
OK, so you announce to the world that anyone who writes a bonus asking "what class of lever is this?"
will get a beating from you, but when asked why, you refuse to give any reason, simply because I am the one who is asking.
People have been telling you over and over that what you are suggesting would not make for good quizbowl,
Not quite. Even you yourself said: "I don't think anyone objects to whatever question as long as it fits into the structure of the game."
and bringing up Richard Feynman is totally irrelevant to this discussion.
This discussion is about science as well as about quizbowl. Matt quoted my assertion that "'name this effect' isn't really science"
and called it a "grand ridiculous pronouncement"
. If it wasn't clear why I cited Feynman
, it's because I thought he had an engaging treatment of the subject of what is or isn't science.
For some reason totally unknown to anyone but yourself, you've fixated on remaking science questions in your image based on what some physicist friends of yours told you 10 years ago at an abysmally shitty tournament. Who cares? Only you apparently.
I don't want to give the impression that my view is based solely on what my physicist teammates told me at the Philly Experiment. They're just examples of players who couldn't name some "effects" even though they not only understood them and could explain them, but also had real experience with them. And it seemed to me that there were also a lot of questions in this SCT that asked for science jargon/labels; I don't have the set, and I'm sorry I can't remember any examples. But it's clear that I'm not the only person in this discussion who thinks that asking questions that test whether people have some knowledge about certain phenomena is better, if you can do it, than asking for the names of phenomena.
We don't demand that people give an exegesis of the symbolism in Moby Dick or explain the significance of the Westphalian System or perform titrations in quizbowl, and we're not going to move to a system of demanding that people "understand" science to get points in QB. We're not interested in testing understanding because it's my experience that good players that get questions early and 30 bonuses already understand the stuff they answer questions on. You are on a pointless, quixotic crusade, and no one who actually plays quizbowl is on your side to anything but the smallest degree.
I just don't get this hostility to even trying
to write quizbowl questions that test the understanding of science, as if it's an issue that question writers should avoid thinking about. Maybe your taste is different, but I feel more fulfilled when I hear a bonus (whether I can answer it or not) that appears to seek to test understanding of some bit of science than when I hear a science bonus in which the challenge is to come up with the name of something. Just as, in a different subject area, I feel much more fulfilled when I'm given a question about visual art or music that lets me see
the visual art or hear
the music than when I just hear words about the works. But that's a separate topic.