Testing and Assessment

Project 2061 Launches New Science Assessment Website:
Some Things Middle and High School Students Know
and Misconceptions They Hold

Some things students know (number in parentheses is % who answered correctly)

  • DNA is the molecule that contains the genetic information that is passed from parents to offspring. (95%)

  • Changes in a population of organisms in a food web (worms) can affect the population of its predator (robins). (84%)

  • Animals compete for resources when they are limited. (80%)

  • The lungs both take in oxygen molecules and eliminate carbon dioxide molecules. (75%)

  • Populations increase when the number of births is greater than the number of deaths. (73%)

  • Children need food as a source of energy and as a source of material for building or repairing body structures such as muscles. (66%)

  • Both wind and rain can wear away the solid rock layer of a cliff. (65%)

  • Matter is made up of atoms. (64%)

  • A car has the most motion energy when it is traveling at the highest speed. (64%)

  • Both ocean basins and continents are part of earth's plates. (64%)

  • A blood cell is bigger than an atom. (63%)

  • Increasing an object's temperature increases its thermal energy. (62%)


Some frequently held misconceptions (number in parentheses is frequency of selection of this misconception across items)

  • The different cell types (skin, muscle, cartilage, etc.) found in a given individual’s body contain different DNA. (58%)

  • Each cell contains only the specific genetic information required for its function.  (43%)

  • The heart is the mixing place for air and blood.  (40%)

  • Molecules from food are distributed by way of special tubes to the rest of the body, not by way of the circulatory system.  (38%)

  • Air is distributed through the body in air tubes.  (43%)

  • Under the influence of a constant force, objects move with constant speed. (44%)

  • The atoms of the reactants of a chemical reaction are transformed into other atoms. (40%)

  • New atoms are created during chemical reactions. (40%)

  • Atoms can be destroyed during a chemical reaction. (36%)

  • When a liquid in a closed container is heated, the mass of the liquid increases as the liquid expands.  (41%)

  • During biological decomposition in a closed system, the total mass of the system decreases. (37%)

  • Earth's plates are located deep within the earth and are not exposed at the earth's surface. (49%)

  • Mountains form by the piling up of pieces of rock. (52%)