Chemistry question, what's your opinion?

  1. I had a chemistry exam and I got one of the questions wrong, but I was upset about the wording. Here was the question as best as I can remember.

    Mr. Smith took all his junk outside and burned it. All of his junk was gone. Is this a true statement? Explain your answer.

    I thought it was a trick question and I got really thrown off by the word "gone". I put yes they are gone because they were changed chemically to something else. The answer was no they were not gone they were only chemically changed to something else. I am just kind of annoyed because I understand the principle of law of conservation of mass. I just got really confused with the wording. I also think since I explained that they were chemically changed to something else that shows that I understand the principle. I think I still did well with or without this question so I guess I just need to get over it, but wanted to know your opinions on this.

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    Joined: Jun '01; Posts: 564; Likes: 2


  3. by   kennedyj
    hi Teresa,

    You could argue both ways on this question, I would have went with the junk still being there, but would depend on ones definition of junk (since junk is poorly defined in the question). It would depend on Mr. Smiths perception of what is junk and the term one mans junk is another mans treasure.

    For example, By incinerating his junk Mr Smith he has changed his junk into something more appreciatable. For example he burns a pile of old newspapers and wood which he considers junk into carbon remains which he uses to fertilize his garden. His junk is gone by definition because it is no longer junk and is now something valuable.

    Try arguing it someway like this. Maybe your teacher just wants a good debate.

  4. by   BrandyBSN
    My initial answer would have been that this is a false statement But I agree, this is a poorly worded question.

  5. by   crnasomeday
    I tutored chemistry for a couple of years, and one thing I learned about taking tests in any kind of hard science class is this: even when you think questions are stupid, and even if you disagree with the instructor....try to answer things the way you know they want them answered.

    You said you're fully aware of the Law of Conservation of mass and as soon as I saw that question that's immediately what I thought of. Since this is a chemistry question, the instructor is most likely not concerned with what Mr. Smith's perception of junk is. He's concerned with whether burning something makes it "gone," and of course it doesn't since matter can neither be created nor destroyed.

    Now having said that,.....what is your instructor, nuts? What a goofy question. But hey, get used to it. Questions on nursing exams aren't often much better.
  6. by   ADN 2002
    I understand why the answer of the question is what it is, but jeez! What a dumb question! I agree with crnasomeday - what's wrong with your teacher?

    As far as nursing exams go, the ones that I love to hate are the ones that go: You've just finished teaching your patient [whatever you taught]. Which of these statements by the client indicates a need for further teaching? Then it gives the responses from the client. I HATE THOSE! They're so stupid! Anybody else hate those?

    All right, I just needed to vent there...I'm okay now.
  7. by   GPatty
    That has got to be one of the dumbest questions I have ever heard! And you were tested on this stuff?
    I would argue it too!
  8. by   kennedyj

    actually I think I recall a couple of NCLEX questions like that
  9. by   crnasomeday
    You know, some of the questions that get thrown at us are so goofy. I come home after every exam ranting about the stupid questions, and the other day my husband said he had finally figured out nursing exams. He said, "They give you a question with four possible answers. One answer is a red block, and three answers are different shades of blue. And the question says 'Pick the blue block.'"
  10. by   wsiab
    I agree, stupid question. If you did ok on the test, probably best to let it go, maybe vent and get support online (lol).

    No joke, I actually had a teacher ask as the final essay question for a midterm exam "what have you learned so far?"....People actually lost points on that question and there were a lot of heated arguments when the tests were handed back. He put the same question as the last one for the final as well, at least we saw it coming.
  11. by   kennedyj
    I had a teacher who always put down as the last question as "you have a wonderful, smart, superb teacher. True or false. He said if we all marked it true we would get it right. He was a good teacher though.
  12. by   TeresaRN2b
    Originally posted by kennedyj
    I had a teacher who always put down as the last question as "you have a wonderful, smart, superb teacher. True or false. He said if we all marked it true we would get it right. He was a good teacher though.
    Lol, anyone with half a brain knows what to put on that question.