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The Misconception Challenge--student version!    


Are you tricked by these very common misconceptions?  Take the Challenge and find out!


Exactly half of the statements below are true (or at least accepted as true by most scientists) and the other half are false.  If you get half of them right, that's just random guessing.  If you get less than half right, you are being tricked by the misconceptions.  If you get more than half right, then you have more knowledge than misconception!


Have fun!

true false      Science is mainly a body of factual knowledge.


true false      Storms form where warm and cold air meet because energy is released when the different masses of air become mixed together.


true false      Lava doesn't ever come from the Earth's Core.


true false      A fish is not able to swim underneath most islands because there is rock there blocking the way.


true false      Phases of the Moon are caused when the shadow of the Earth falls on the Moon


true false      Total eclipses of the Moon are caused when the shadow of the Earth completely covers the Moon


true false      If scientists were foolish enough to drill a hole in the bottom of the sea, much of the sea would drain away.


true false      Most tectonic plate boundaries are at the edges of continents.


true false      Space ships going to Pluto have no risk of running into stars


true false       Neither dinosaurs nor humans lived on Earth in the first half of the Earth's existence


true false      Carbon-14 dating tells us that the Earth is billions of years old


true false      If you watched the night sky for an entire night, all but one star--the North Star--would appear to move.


true false      Comets shoot across the sky in less than a minute


true false      Summer is warmer than winter because Earth is closer to the sun in summer


true false      The Moon orbits the Earth once every (approximately) 24 hours.


true false       When someone says "my theory is...", that use of the word theory in that context is quite different from its usage when we refer to a scientific theory.


true false      If a scientific study has a large statistical error, that does not necessarily mean that the results are wrong.


true false      Once a person (or spacecraft) is in space, they are still under the influence of gravity.


true false      If you pump all of the air out of a vacuum bell jar on Earth, the objects inside will still be held down by gravity.


true false       On Earth, clouds are made mainly of water vapor (gas).


true false       Bathtub drains and toilets will spiral in opposite directions in the northern and southern hemispheres of Earth.


true false       Rivers naturally flow from North to South.


true false       Caves do not extend into the Earth's deep crust, mantle, or core.


true false       Tectonic plates move slowly, typically a few inches per year.


true false       Where we have mountains today, may have once been plains, and where we have plains today may have once been mountains.


true false       Earthquakes cause canyons by making the earth crack open. 


true false      An immature rock has angular grains that were not transported far. If you find a rock with rough and angular edges, it is an immature rock.


true false       A rock is typically made up of much smaller individual mineral grains.


true false       Bedrock refers to rock that has not been eroded free from the underlying rock.  It does not refer to loose rocks lying on the ground.


true false       When you find a particular kind of rock at the surface, you can be fairly confident that that rock extends down into the subsurface at least a few miles, but not usually all the way to the mantle.


true false       Waves and Tides are completely different things caused by different processes and different source of energy and occur on different time scales.


true false        A Tidal wave is a special kind of tide that usually exceeds a locally-determined height.


true false        Deserts are defined as very hot regions that receive low rainfall.


true false        Most groundwater exists in tiny spaces between the grains of the rock, and not in large, underground chambers.


true false       Glaciers "bulldoze" landscapes, leaving behind a flat plain.


true false       Greenhouse warming has been going on since long before human intervention in nature.




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