Who’s on First?

January 29, 2007 at 9:27 am | | grad life, teaching

A modern day “Who’s on first,” that most lab teachers have experienced…. attributed to “Unknown” on the internet.

    TA: What went on in this lab?
    Student: What do you mean?
    TA: What did you do in this lab?
    Student: Lab 3.
    TA: And what did you do in lab 3?
    Student: We measured the result.
    TA: Assume I’ve never seen this lab before, and you’re going to explain it to me. What would you say?
    Student: (pause) Well, it was all about getting the slope.
    TA: The slope of what?
    Student: The slope of the plot.
    TA: I know that, but you have to assume I’ve never heard of this lab, ok? How would you explain what you did?
    Student: We got the wires and measured at each point.
    TA: Measured what?
    Student: What the meter said.
    TA: (pause) Look. Your report tells me nothing; this could be an experiment about baking cakes. What’s this number here?
    Student: 5.
    TA: Yes I KNOW it’s 5. What did it measure?
    Student: The slope. Of the line.
    TA: What line?
    Student: The line. On the plot. We measured the points and plotted them.
    TA: Why?
    Student: (knowing smile) Because that’s what the lab said.
    TA: If I was a total stranger, how would you explain this to me?
    Student: You just connect it up–
    TA: Connect WHAT up?
    Student: The circuit.
    TA: Why?
    Student: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.
    TA: I’m asking: what is this lab all about?
    Student: Well, we put in the wires and got 5.
    TA: 5 what?
    Student: The slope.
    TA: WHAT was it’s slope?
    Student: 5.
    TA: I KNOW that, but what was it a measurement of?
    Student: The meter.
    TA: (sigh) One more time — consider me a total stranger. How would you explain this to me?
    Student: You just put on the wires and vary the dial until you get the readings.
    TA: What dial?
    Student: On the power supply.
    TA: Why was there a power supply?
    Student: Well, for the circuit.
    TA: And what readings are you talking about?
    Student: The readings in the plot.
    TA: They gave you a plot in the lab manual?
    Student: I’m sorry, I don’t know what you’re asking.
    TA: Where did the plot come from?
    Student: We drew it.
    TA: From what?
    Student: From the experiment.
    TA: The experiment about what?
    Student: About lab 3.


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  1. I want a regrade.

    Comment by kendall — January 29, 2007 #

  2. What’s wrong with that? They got 5. It’s the slope. Duh.

    Comment by The TA — February 8, 2007 #

  3. I bet dollars to donuts this was a pre-med!

    Comment by geewhizz — March 1, 2007 #

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