The 3 Awful Types of Science Lab Questions

ScienceLabFunnyOf all of your school classes, science is perhaps the most unusual. And when I say unusual, I’m not talking about the fact that your science teacher lives in an environmentally conscious aluminum foil teepee and bikes to work, nor the fact that it’s the only class where you don’t fail if your lab sheet “burned up in a fire.”

No, what’s most unusual about science class is the fact that half of the class consists of “Labs.”

Now, maybe you don’t think that labs are all that unusual. But think about it for a second.

I mean, what if you had a lab in history class? “Okay, guys, we’re gonna go to the back of the room and drop a bunch of multi-ethnic nationalistic mice in the plexiglass box to simulate the Serbian ‘powder-keg’ of Europe. Make sure you keep your safety goggles on the whole time.”

Or, how about a lab in English class? Step 1: add five metaphors or similes to your first paragraph. Step 2: Add a personification to the best metaphor or simile. Step 3: Analyze the result; what does it mean if the clouds were “like angry opossums instagramming pictures of gas prices and breakfast foods?”

Now do you think labs are pretty unusual? At least they just expect you to memorize the already-proven laws in math class. With labs, you’re expected to prove theories that have already been formulated and then memorize them.

But the worst part of labs is not that they might be pointless, because if you’re burning and exploding things at least you’re not falling asleep in class (hopefully). No, the worst part of labs is their somewhat awkward procedures and their unfocused, predictable questions.

And these analysis questions can seem unanswerable.

The Simple Questions

Some lab questions are incredibly obvious. For example, “What happened when you held the ice cube over the Bunsen burner?”

Well, I know what you’re thinking: it melted. Duh. Which is close enough to what your average teenager might think, at first.

But in class, the thought process looks more like this: it melted. Duh…duh, right? Uhhh, hello? Duh? Uh…that’s too obvious “Hey, guys, look at #1. You put that it melted, right?” “Well, yeah, I think so, but no duh. We could have done that without doing the lab. There must be something else that missed.” “Yeah, okay, I figured.” Hmmm…well, I’ll just say that it melted in a blue flash and then some purple smoke appeared…in the shape of the ice cube…yeah. That’s probably what the right answer is.

Sure, you laugh now, but why would anybody ask—on a science lab sheet that is intended for teenagers who may not be smart, but certainly aren’t clueless—what happens when you put AN ICE CUBE ABOVE A FLAME? You’d only ask it if the answer wasn’t obvious, right?

Well, that rule applies for most classes, but not in science class. Recall the purpose of science labs: to demonstrate things we already know. Thus, the simple questions are really that simple. Unfortunately, it takes most of us two years to figure that out, leading to some hilarious, albeit incorrect, answers.

The Difficult Questions

When a question isn’t obvious, and doesn’t become apparent in the lab, that’s probably because it is a poorly written question. After all, many science teachers focused on science, and not English, in high school. Of course, scrawling out, “This is a poorly written question and I’m not going to answer it because I don’t know ‘What happened when you brought the copper rod near the beaker and the solution and the beaker rod react solution to bubbles rod the?’” is not usually an acceptable answer, even if it is the correct one.

So, again, this ties into the idea that labs are to demonstrate, not to discover, scientific properties. If you can figure out the property being demonstrated, you can usually write something that makes a bit of sense.

But since that involves thinking, I suggest that you simply repeat as much as the question as possible, while throwing in a yes/no answer. For instance, you might end up with: “Yes, the rod, when brought near the beaker and the solution and the beaker rod, react solution to bubbles rod the.”

The Worst Question

It’s on every lab. The answer constantly changes. It’s perhaps the most difficult question on the entire lab. Most other people won’t have any idea. What is it? Simply: “What is the date?”

Actually, just kidding. While figuring out the date is usually pretty tough, you can always just guess, as most teachers won’t grade you down for putting the “54th of June, 1410.”

No, the actual worst question is: “What are some possible sources of error in this lab?”

This question can only end badly. You can blame yourself, and make it look like you’re incompetent: “Well, I dropped some of the uranium and it made a small, smoking crater in the wire, but at least the ammeter was unharmed.” If your teacher sees that, you’ll definitely be marked down for not being careful.

At the same time, you can’t blame your teacher or school: “The major problems came from the equipment, which was made in 1922. After the measuring needle on the voltmeter crumbled into dust, we sort of had to guesstimate the position it would have been on the dial.” Your teacher’s response will be that money is tight and that you should be grateful you even get to do labs. Also, you’ll lose points for being ungrateful and for “guesstimating” incorrectly.

If you’re a true teenager, you’ve probably already figured out that the correct way to answer this question is to blame your lab partner. “My lab partner dropped the uranium on the voltmeter and completely ruined the entire lab process. The few and slightly erroneous results were only recorded after I made a valiant, heroic, and ultimately unsuccessful attempt to save the lab while also administering light first-aid to my partner, who’d been injured in the blast.” That’s an A+ answer.

So, when it comes to answering those science lab questions, you should now be able to “infer” the correct answers. You know what they always say: “Fake your way to an A!” And if you can’t quite manage that, then at least be gracious when you take the blame for totally ruining the labs of all six chemistry classes.

Everything You Need to Know to Pass the Driving Test

FunnyDriversTestSheetMost teens are eager to get their driver’s license. So eager, in fact, that the Princeton Review is considering publishing a driving-test booklet for the written test.*

*That’s probably not true. If it is true, I’ll probably get sued for revealing trade secrets. (“The Princeton Review: Cracking the Circuit Court, 2013 Edition.”)

Unfortunately, the state governments have created a number of obstacles to getting your license, mostly to appease the ultra-powerful common sense lobby. Some of these obstacles are straightforward, like speed bumps—originally created to make driving less comfortable for teens, although this backfired after teens interpreted them as jump ramps—while others are more obscure, like the law that says any car given to a teen has to have at least three dents, with at least one of them coming from Arnold Schwarzenegger.

Nonetheless, teens still manage to obtain licenses as soon as possible, often earning them on their 16th or 17th birthday. Of course, to do so, one must pass both the written test and driving test. (A few very talented teens have actually passed both at the same time, with the help of a steering-wheel desk). And, while we’ve previously told you how to cruise right through that written test, we have not yet touched upon the driving test.

At some point, you’ve probably asked yourself: why do you do this? Why do you reveal the secrets to tests created to keep people safe on the road?

Well, to that I have two answers. The first is that you’re a better driver than many already on the road, so it’s not like you’re making it that much less safe. After all, neither 80-year-old drivers nor NASCAR professionals drive the speed limit. (One theory is that the 80-year-olds are trying to somehow compensate for all of the people speeding. It’s worked fairly well, too: if you’re going 25mph on the freeway, it’s easy to avoid the NASCAR racer driving at a 90-degree angle on the vertical cement divider.)

The second answer is that I’m here to help you, of course. And by you, I mean me, sort of how most people usually mean “me” when they say “you.” (For example: “I love you.”). If you pass the driving tests without too much studying, you’re more likely to read this blog in all that extra spare time.

So, without further ado, just how are you going to pass the driving test?

The First Impression

You’ll be nervous. If you normally sweat, don’t drink anything for three weeks before the driving test. You know what they say: dead men don’t sweat.

After all, to establish a good rapport with your evaluator, you’re going to want to shake their hand as soon as they get in your car. To establish a really good rapport, slide out of the handshake, slap back-and-forth with your hand, and then fist-bump-explode out. (This is not recommended for evaluators over the age of 30).

You should also make sure that your car is clean, especially concerning the dead bodies in your back seat. If you can’t move them on your own, then it’s generally acceptable to just put them in a nice suit and tie. This also involves removing anything that’s on your dashboard or hanging from your mirror, such as dice.

Hanging dice from mirrors has a lot in common with 90% of all teen fashion, in that nobody knows why others think it is a good idea. I mean, are you playing Parcheesi with other drivers at a red light? If you can’t wait until you get home to do that, I think you should see an addiction specialist.

The Stop Signs

As a general rule, you need to emphasize that you can drive safely, correctly, and with your eyes open.

Most teens have trouble with stop signs. This is because many people have incorrectly assumed that these red, octagonal signs are a massive federally funded anti-smoking campaign, and that they are strategically placed at busy intersections where people are most likely to see them. So, when you stop, it will feel like an eternity compared to the drivers around you, who often speed up through stop signs to demonstrate their true level of nonchalance.

And why do people hate stopping? Because it takes time. Since you have to stop during the driving test, however, you might as well not let that time go to waste. So, bring your English novel and read a chapter at every stop sign. If your driving evaluator starts to look impatient, that’s just ‘cause they don’t want to be excluded from the story. This is solved by reading aloud to them, unless it is Wuthering Heights, in which case, they will be required by law to automatically fail you.

The Lane Merging

Merging is something not covered in most written tests, because when written, it seems simple: turn on your signal and pull into a gap in the adjacent lane.

This simplistic description, however, doesn’t take into account the fact that there are no gaps in the adjacent lane, and all of the cars and drivers in the adjacent lane are devoted to ensuring that no gaps appear. In fact, even if a brick wall suddenly appeared in the lane, one study found that 90% of drivers will attempt to drive through it to prevent any gaps in the lane from forming*.

*Unsurprisingly, this study took place in San Francisco.

Now, on any normal route, most teen drivers think ahead as to what lane they need to be in. If necessary, we’ll track that lane up to 50 miles opposite direction until we can find where it starts, just to avoid any lane changes. On the driving test, though, the state wants to see if you can change lanes at a moment’s notice, I guess to add some excitement to the driving evaluators’ otherwise dull jobs of spending 10 hours a day in a car with someone who learned to drive yesterday.

While there are many terrific strategies to merging quickly—such as merging and then signaling, or finding a VW Bug and just bumping it out of the lane—on the driving test, you’re bound by the law. This means that other drivers will be aware that you’re trying to merge, and compensate adequately by making faces at you as they speed up to close any lane gaps to within an inch.

To add to that stress, most driving tests involve a lane change when the lane ends, meaning you’re going to have a limited amount of time to merge before you hit the concrete wall that people think it’s a good idea to end lanes with.

So, the merging advice is simple. You need to find the toughest bumper stickers you can and place them on your car. “If you don’t eat jalapenos peppers before your morning coffee, you’re not alive!” or “Yeah, I lost an arm fighting off a pack of rabid wolves, but at least I didn’t lose my compass.” You’d be an idiot to not to allow these sort of people to merge, and a gap in the lane will appear for you.

The “Awareness”

One of the other things you’re evaluated on is how “aware” of your surroundings you appear to be. The key word there is “appear.”

Obviously, you don’t want to wear sunglasses, obscuring your eyes and making it impossible for the evaluator to tell if you check your mirrors. In fact, most people suggest wearing a baseball hat so that it is obvious when you turn your head to check mirrors. To make that an even better idea, you should wear one of those jester hats with the bells. Now, not only is it visually obvious that you’re turning your head, it’s also audibly obvious. Plus, if you take the exam sometime in the Christmas season, the driving instructor won’t even think you’re a total freak—just slightly deranged.

The other thing you can do to appear more aware is to offer commentary on your surroundings. For example, when you check your left side mirror, you might say something like: “Wow, that blue van behind me has a major dent on its left side and some metal stuck in its front left tire. It must have hit an inexperienced merging driver a few minutes ago. Hey, look! You can even see the driver who was trying to merge; he’s clinging to the back bumper.”

Conclusion

I’ll confess that I haven’t told you everything you need to know to pass the driving test. I didn’t mention the whole part about taking yellow lights at mach 3, or braking hard before sharp turns to get that cool movie-style screech. I did hit on the major points, however, and that’s all you need. After all, if the DMV says you only need an 80% on the driving test to pass, that’s good enough for me. Even if that 20% failed includes things such as knocking down mailboxes—although, really, you probably just saved them from some college mail anyways.

Yeah, I’m still here. Trust me, I’ll let you know if I ever plan to stop posting. Otherwise, just assume that the next post, as always, will be coming as soon as my junior-year-is-crazy schedule allows. If you’ve liked the blog, you can stay more up-to-date, as I’ll try to post on the Facebook page about any kinks in the posting schedule. (To make up for that long gap, this post is longer than usual.)

And, of course, there’s always the archives to browse if you get impatient. Which brings me to not one, but two terrific posts published in March last year. The first consists of some hilarious summaries of some “classic” English novels, and is one of my personal favorites. The second is some outstanding backpack fashion advice, entitled “6 Awesome Ways to Wear Your Backpack.”

3 Things to Do With Those College Emails

College Emails FunnyIf you’ve ever taken a standardized test in your life, then in the spring of your junior year you are going to be swamped with emails from public colleges, private universities, and Libyan princesses.

This is because College Board, the omnipotent deity that has the power to decide not only where you go to college but also what you will have for dinner tomorrow night, runs this thing called the “Student Search Service.” And don’t let that title mislead you: if you get kidnapped, College Board will have absolutely no idea where you are. Even your handwritten cursive integrity statement won’t reveal that much about you, although it does reveal whether or not you paid attention in third grade.

No, the Student Search Service exists purely for the benefit of colleges. Essentially, College Board sends your email address to every educational institution in the world that has signed up, including some slightly-confused preschools that originally joined because they thought it would help them locate any kidnapped toddlers.

Now I know what you’re thinking: but, man, if you don’t want those emails you can just opt out of the Student Search Service, right?

Sure, in theory. In theory, there’s a little box somewhere on every AP test, SAT, PSAT, and SAT II that allows you to opt out. But by your sixteenth AP test or fiftieth SAT II, you’re too brain dead to find the little box. Heck, you’re just trying to figure out whether leaving it marked or leaving it unmarked is closest to “C,” which is what your hallucinatory, test-battered brain has been guessing on the last thirty questions.

Since it’s inevitable that College Board eventually gets your email address, it’s inevitable that you receive these college emails. Heck, you might not even realize how massive this email-address grabbing operation is. That fly buzzing around your laptop? It’s actually a College Board-controlled bio-mechanical robot meant to get a screenshot of you logging into your email address.

So, once you’ve received these emails, what should you do?

Respond Immediately

Trust me, colleges wouldn’t send these emails if they didn’t want a response. That’s why they take the time to personalize each and every email: notice how your first name is used in the subject line of every email, often up to three times. (In rare cases, the subject line might read like this: “Joe, picture Joe at the University of Uzbekistan, Joe”).

So, you need to respond ASAP. First of all, it’s the polite thing to do. Secondly, you don’t know which colleges you’ll be applying to eventually, and do you think you have any chance of being accepted if you didn’t respond to the personal email a college sent you? You’d have about as much chance of being accepted as Manti Te’o’s girlfriend.

Thus, the question then becomes: how? How can you possibly respond to the 60+ college emails you receive everyday? The answer’s pretty obvious: do less. Sleeping? Cut some of that out. Surfing the ‘net? No time, you’ve gotta respond to the seven emails that just came in. Metabolizing? Hello, wake up, you won’t have time for that either, dreamer. Maybe after you get accepted to college you can do that stuff.

Get the Free Guides

Often, the emails that you receive from colleges will include a free guide. These guides will have incredibly catchy titles, such as, “5 Questions to Ask when Touring Colleges,” “10 Ways You Can Find the Right College,” or “18 Fiscal Tips to Avoiding the Next Double-Dip Recession.” Instantly, your self-doubt will set in. What if you don’t respond? What if you don’t get these guides? WHAT IF YOU DON’T ASK THE RIGHT QUESTIONS ON A COLLEGE TOUR AND END UP CRASHING THE GLOBAL ECONOMY? It’d be so easy, you’ll tell yourself, to just click the enticing link and not have to worry about missing anything. So you click the link.

Of course, once your guides actually arrive, you’ll realize how gullible you were. Sure, they’ll all look amazing, with color photos and very glossy paper that reveals just how little that college—say, Somalia State University—cares for the environment. But the tips inside will be practically useless. For example, one brochure might recommend that you “Look around” while visiting a campus, or “Talk to Current Students.” Obviously, without this helpful advice, you would have strolled about the campus blindfolded, with a sign around your neck explaining that you have a rare tropical disease to keep people from getting close enough to talk to you.

Even though these guides are all fluff you should probably already know, I still recommend you get every single one just to appease your paranoia. After all, you don’t want to lose sleep worrying about all of vital admissions info you’re missing.

To get the guides, of course, involves slightly more time than simply responding to most other college emails. Often, you have to provide your parents’ email addresses, neighbor’s email addresses, and the email addresses of the last seventy people you emailed, which takes a little while. But, really, you’re just doing these people a favor: without you, they’d be missing out on all of these wonderful emails.

Sort the Emails

You can’t allow these college emails to just pile up in your inbox. Heck, since you’re already spending the majority of your time outside of school responding to them, you might as well take the extra hour or six and sort them.

The question is, how do you sort them? Well, that’s a good question. After all, you probably have no idea where you will or won’t apply to college. So, I recommend the following system:

First, sort the emails by geography. And if you aren’t sure whether Denver or Austin is closer to your current location, you might as well touch up on your geography knowledge now rather than later. I mean, at least all you have to do is check Google maps. Think of how bad it was for your parents in the 1980s: they probably had to walk to both cities and count their steps. (Plus, email didn’t even exist back then, so they had to sort college telegrams instead).

Then, sort the emails by rank. And this doesn’t just mean academic rank. Coolest names, best locations, strongest engineering programs, number of times they emailed you, number of times they used your first name in the email subject line, etc. Since many email programs can only sort by date, name, subject, or size, you’re going to need to start printing out each email to properly sort it. To minimize your environmental impact, just print it on the envelopes and paper of the free guides you were sent. And, of course, to ensure that your sorting efforts don’t go to waste, you should keep your files in a fireproof, underground, climate controlled, radiation-blocking safe (or a chiseled slab of concrete works well if you can’t find one of those).

Conclusion

Take action. Sort emails. Respond. Get free guides. It’s pretty straightforward, really, even if it does take 27 or 28 hours a day. So, in parting, I have one final tidbit of advice: outsource. Got a baby sibling or a lazy pet cat? You might as well give them something to do and allow them to feel productive.

Last year at this time, we drew your attention to the urgent issue of “The Movie Industry’s War on Teen Books.” You definitely need to be aware of what’s going on if you aren’t already, and that post includes what I find to be one of our funniest pictures of all time.

What Model United Nations Can Teach Us About the Real United Nations

MUNfunnySome of you may call it MUN. Others might call it Model UN. Thankfully, none of you call it Model United Nations.

If you did call it by its full name, adults would know what you were talking about, and then they would think you actually do care about more than the new flavor of Trident Layers that just came out. And we don’t want to ruin the “teens are dumb” stereotype, because if adults think we’re stupid, it’s a lot easier to get away with stupid things. Like crashing your car into your neighbor’s brick mailbox.

Adults chalk this crash up to having an “underdeveloped” brain, but we all know you’re just getting revenge for when that neighbor sprayed you with the hose on Halloween. Which was really unnecessary, seeing as you were only going to aerate his lawn with some plastic forks and test the strength of his roof with some raw eggs. Some people just don’t accept good deeds, I guess.

Anyway, back to the point (not that I have one. But if I did have one, this would be the time to come back to it.)

Model United Nations may just be a mock UN activity, but it can teach us some valuable things about the real world of foreign relations.

(If you don’t know what MUN is, it’s basically when a group of schools gets together and everyone pretends to represent real UN countries and delegates. You pass resolutions and dress up in business attire. In a way, it’s like playing dress-up when you were five, except this time you can put it on your college application. Although, just between you and me, I’m planning on putting: “Dressed up and imitated Thomas the Tank Engine; Grades 2-3” on my college application to give me a slight competitive edge over y’all).

The Transportation

Just like in your own (or, if you don’t have one, a neighboring school’s) MUN chapter, the real United Nations delegates travel to their conferences in yellow school buses manufactured before the invention of shock absorbers.

Since many delegates come from places as far away as South Africa, South America, and South Dakota, they often leave two to three years ahead of when the conference is scheduled. For countries with lots of railroads, like Russia, they often have to leave even earlier than that, since the driver has to stop and open the doors at each railroad crossing.

The Seating

When you finally get to your committee room, you try and sit next to your friends. This way, you can talk about important things like that new Trident Layers flavor* when you hit a slow part in the debates.

In the UN, delegates also try to sit next to their friends. Unfortunately, unlike MUN, the real United Nations committee chair enforces the “sit alphabetically” policy. To counteract that, of course, countries just started lying about the English translation of their official names. How else did you think we ended up with names like “Djibouti?” Clearly, that guy just wanted to sit near the attractive delegate from the Dominican Republic.

* If you don’t pay me in the next ten days for this product placement, Trident Company, I’m changing it to “5 gum” instead.

The Resolutions

Sure, many people take MUN seriously, but there are always a few jokesters who like to make spoof resolutions (not me, of course. As a humor writer, I only write serious resolutions). And wouldn’t you know it, the United Nations has the same problem.

Some countries, like the major western nations, actually want to resolve problems in the world. Others, however, like Luxembourg, have so much money that they actually don’t have enough physical room in their banks to keep it all (and it doesn’t help that Luxembourg is only about as large as your AP Biology textbook).

So, delegates from places like these do spend all of their time on joke resolutions. Recently, “Resolution 1399: Banning the Election of Any National Leader without a Phonetically Spelled Name” came within five votes of passing. Had it passed, 78% of all the countries would have had to hold emergency elections.

The Free Time

Even if you don’t like international relations, lots of people do MUN to get out of school, travel to a nearby college, have free time with friends, and attend the party on the final night.

And, believe it or not, about 30% of all UN delegates are there simply for the parties. You think Morretalgo has any major international influence? Heck no. Half you probably think that I just made that up, because you’ve never even heard of that country. (And the other half you are “dumb” teenagers, because I did just make that up.)

These delegates come for the crazy parties and New York City nightlife. Unfortunately, this can sometimes lead to corruption. One third world country (which will remain unnamed) had an entire internal government investigation after it was found that the UN ambassador bribed the selection committee because he really, really wanted to go see “Cats” on Broadway. And that’s absolutely pathetic. I mean, “Cats?” Really? Talk about poor taste.

Conclusion

Clearly, MUN programs across the nation do a much better job modeling the real United Nations than you thought, right down to the pillow fights over who gets the single motel bed and who gets the floor (quick note: this is what started the Cold War). So, if you like MUN, maybe you should consider becoming an international relations major. Besides, if that doesn’t work out, you can always become the official U.N. school bus driver instead.

If you’re more interested in some useful advice, you probably want to check out, “Everything You Need to Know to Pass Chemistry Class,” published this time last year. Part of the “Everything You Need to Know” series, it’s there to help you get that A+. Or C-. Whichever your friends will be more in awe of.