Starting this year, high school students in Montgomery County have it a little bit easier: That school district, the largest in the state, has voted to eliminate year-end final exams in high school, the Washington Post reports.
Yesterday, I wrote about the Johns Hopkins computer science students who figured out a loophole in their professors’ grading system — if they all refused to take the final exam, they’d all get As. Which is exactly what they did. I was surprised by the harsh response of our commenters: “I’d have flunked the whole bunch of them,” one writes. “What happened here was blackmail,” writes another. While I understand people — especially teachers! — not wanting to condone a policy that seemingly rewards laziness with good grades, I don’t think that’s what happened here.
This is amazing: So, like many professors, Johns Hopkins computer scientist Peter Frohlich grades exams on a curve, meaning that everyone’s grades are relative to the top scorer. (If the smartest student gets an 85, s/he gets an A, and everyone else’s score is weighted accordingly.) There’s an obvious loophole, though — if everyone taking the exam gets the same score, then everyone gets an A. Even better, if everyone gets a zero, they get an A. This is exactly what Frohlich’s students did — and it worked.
It’s starting to be final exam time, and students citywide are devoting themselves to their projects, papers, essays, reports and… hovercrafts? Yes, you read that right. Today, in fact, freshmen engineering students at the University of Maryland’s Clark School are engaging in the most exciting final exam we’ve ever heard of: crafting hand-built, autonomous hovercraft to navigate around a track. For the first time, the hovercrafts will have to “retrieve and transport a randomly located payload.”
So, how do you build a hovercraft? Apparently it just takes foam, batteries, fans, sensors, and an Arduino UNO microcontroller. Oh, and some basic engineering skills. Piece of cake!
If you happen to be on campus today, you can watch the hovering in person at the Kim Engineering Building from 9am to 5pm. You can also watch a livestream of the competition here.