Monday, October 8, 2007

Are You Smarter than a Fifth Grader?

By Mitchell

Last night on the GSN black-and-white overnight block, right after What's My Line?, was an eposide of I've Got a Secret dating back to 1964. For those of you too young to remember the premise, I've Got a Secret featured a celebrity panel who tried to guess the secret of a contestant based on simple questions and answers. In addition to contestants from everyday walks of life, each episode also included a celebrity guest who would try to stump the panel.

On this particular episode, the celebrity was Sam Levenson, a former teacher who had become a successful humorist, author and television personality in the 1950s and 60s. His secret was not really a secret as much as it was a test: in particular, a test similar to that taken by the average fifth grader in New York's public school system of the 1960s. There was time for only six questions; the panel did - well, actually, let's see how you do on this fifth grade quiz from the 60s. If you behave, we'll have the answers for you tomorrow:

Questions 1 and 2: Five men have become President of the United States without ever being elected to the office. Name two of them. (Read this question very carefully.)

Question 3: In the mathematical equation 17-9=8, 9 is referred to as the subtrahend and 8 as the difference. What is the number 17 called?

Question 4: Iron Oxide is the chemical term for what common substance?

Question 5: We were all taught (at least back then we were) about how the Dutch bought Manhattan Island from the Indians for $24. Name the man who negotiated the sale (or swindle, as Levenson fairly accurately puts it). This may seem like an extremely archaic question, but in fact the answer was well-known in history books of the time.

Question 6: Name the city that served as the first capital of the United States.

No looking in Wikipedia. We'll be back tomorrow with the answers. See if you can do better than a fifth grader of the 60s - or for that matter, if a fifth grader of today could do as well as fifth graders back then.

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