Science “lesson” today. It’s Friday, so that means the weekly test, the suspense over whether they will score the 28/40 necessary to avoid the dreaded SSI (when the results were displayed today, one girl who made the cut did about as much dancing as one could do while still remaining seated), and best of all, mental floss.

[audio: – Help Me Scrape the Mucus off My Brain.mp3] Help Me Scrape the Mucus Off My Brain — Ween

Every Friday before the test, we scrape the mucous off our brains by mental flossing with some trick questions, math tricks, logic puzzles, Wacky Wordies, and etc. They’re all extra credit, and guessing is encouraged. Some are tricks, and some ain’t, but if it looks like a trick, it probably is.

Today ‘s set saw the return of  another here’s-an-example-of-why-it’s-so-hard-to-learn-to-spell-in-English:

What’s so unusual about this sentence? (Be specific.)
A rough-coated, dough-faced, thoughtful ploughman strode through the
streets of Scarborough; after falling into a slough, he coughed and hiccoughed.

(Hint: Read it out loud.)

Since I know how most (of my) seventh graders seems to have math issues, I also used one of my old looks-like-math-but-really-isn’t questions. I don’t tell them it isn’t a math question until the two-minute warning.

What property do 1, 2, 6, and 10 all have that no other whole number has?

(Remember, it’s not math.)

We also had some Wacky Wordies:

a)  b) 
c) another one thing d)

(The colors aren’t part of the clue.)

Most of them got this one:

Bob owns a pet store. He has thirty-five birds for sale. If twenty of those birds are parrots, what is the probability that any of the remaining birds are dodo birds?

Although one girl did ask the inevitable (academic word this week) question,

“What’s doodoo bird?” (No lie. And if  you don’t think that brought the house down, then you don’t know from seventh grade.)

But the one that set me up as the straight man this time was this one, which isn’t a trick at all, just a bit of common sense.

If you balanced a broom horizontally on your finger, so that your finger was exactly on the broom’s center of gravity, marked that spot and cut the broom in two, then you would have a long and a short piece; the long piece being most of the handle and the short piece being the bristle end and a small part of the handle. Now, if you weigh both pieces, which will weigh more? Or will they weigh the same?

I used my Quiet Stick as a substitute for a broom to help them visualize, and then,

“Well, you’ve all been on a teeter-totter at the playground before?”

(Before I can follow that up with my analogy, it’s a cacophony of, “I love those,” or “I hate those,” or sharing about the time when…)

“Stop! Anyway, how many of you have been on the opposite end from a “stout” kid?”

(Repeat above cacophony. Rising out of the din: “I was that kid!”)

“Save it for circle time. So…”

Again I’m demoing with my stick tilted down to one side across my finger.

“If that colossal kid is down over here and you’re up here, and you’re trying to balance, what would the kid down here have to do?”

I walked right into this one.

“Lose weight!”

They thought that was just the cleverest line. All. Day. Long.

Lots more mental floss at