February 6, 2017 8:00 pm

Tuesday Night, Find Out If You’re Smarter than an Eighth Grader

Are you smarter than an eighth grader?

That may not be as silly a question as it first seems.

On last week’s episode of StarTalk Radio, Jay Leno was telling Neil deGrasse Tyson about his old “Jaywalking” segment from The Tonight Show. In those segments, Jay would go out into the streets to ask people basic knowledge questions. And, according to Jay, 8th graders would get all of the questions right, as did the elderly, but people aged 21-40 were guaranteed to provide Jay and his producers with plenty of blank stares and comically wrong answers.

Coincidentally, tomorrow night’s episode of StarTalk All-Stars is also evidence that being as smart as an eighth grader may be a worthy goal.

That’s because on tomorrow’s show, host Dr. David Grinspoon, aka Dr. FunkySpoon, and co-host Chuck Nice are tackling Cosmic Queries about astrobiology submitted by eighth graders at the Arroyo Vista Charter School in Chula Vista, California. According to Chuck, who has probably chosen and asked StarTalk hosts more Cosmic Queries than any other co-host, these questions are as good as some of those asked by our regular fans, who tend to be more highly educated than most. They ask about everything from how amino acids and complex carbon compounds carried on comets end up here on Earth, to which of the characteristics of Earth will allow life to thrive on other planets.

Comet Hyakutake Passes the Earth

Comet Hyakutake Passes the Earth, Credit & Copyright: Doug Zubenel (TWAN), courtesy of NASA APOD.

The questions, and their answers, provide a mini class in Astrobiology 101, but that’s not the only part of tomorrow’s show worth listening to.

The students’ teacher, Daniel Peluso, is also in the studio with David and Chuck, and the three adults in the room talk about the challenges of teaching science to kids. You’ll hear a discussion about the limitations of both the Common Core curriculum and the Next Generation Science Standards, and why it’s important to connect science lessons to real life. You’ll also hear why some feel that science education needs to be more like the principles of science itself: adapting and changing as we get more data and new evidence about best practices in what helps students better absorb, process and develop critical thinking about the information they receive.

Please join us for “Are You Smarter than an 8th Grader?” with Dr. FunkySpoon, this Tuesday night at at 7pm EDT right here on our website, as well as our new All-Stars channels on iTunes PodcastsGoogle Play MusicSoundCloudStitcher, and TuneIn. And if you’re an All-Access subscriber, you can watch or listen to this episode ad-free at 7pm, too.

That’s it for now. Keep Looking Up!
–Jeffrey Simons