Don’t forget your units, Mr. Schue!

During the opening scene of tonight’s episode of Glee, I was met with the most recent “shout at the TV” moment.  (P.S. Here’s a Tumblr with an appropriate caption.)  Here’s what I imagine must have been written in the screenplay (along w/my italicized internal monologue):

 

INT. HIGH SCHOOL CHORUS ROOM – DAY

Open scene on whiteboard.  Close-up on MR. SCHUESTER’s hand as he writes what appears to be a math problem across the board:

5,000 x 0.25 = 20,000

(My eyes are stuck on the board.  Do they know that this should equal 1,250?)

MR. SCHUESTER puts the cap on the marker, and turns to face the class…

(I cannot look away, and I can’t hear anything that anyone is saying.  Awaiting the impending correction from the students in the room.  There is no correction.  Awaiting him using this “silly mistake” to build a metaphor for something larger.  There is no metaphor.  Maybe he’ll have some clever way of jarring the kids to think differently about a problem they have.  There is no clever plot twist.  Wait…I think he’s walking to the board- maybe he’s going to make that big point to the kids now…)

MR. SCHUESTER (pointing at whiteboard)

It’s easy, see?  We need five thousand dollars, times a quarter a piece, means we need to sell…20,000 pieces of saltwater taffy!

MR. SCHUESTER turns around, unwraps a piece of taffy, and pops it in his mouth.  (No reference to our little math snafu.  I am Jack’s Complete Lack of Surprise.)

END SCENE.

 

In all seriousness, here’s what I assume Ol’ Schuey was trying to convey (once again highlighting the need for units with your numbers):

Photo_apr_19_9_45_41_pmPhoto_apr_19_9_45_55_pm

Not necessarily 2+2, but also not exactly rocket science, either…so what gives?  I mean, I kind of understand it when I see a show like ER has some inconsistent medical science in it, or when CSI propagates common misunderstandings in science (like the idea that a car’s rubber tires make it safe during a thunderstorm- check out these guys from Top Gear if you’re looking for the “real” explanation on this).  It doesn’t make me too happy, but I get that these kinds of things sometimes fall through the cracks.  But to have something like this go unchecked?  I’m lost for words.

Do any of you have any of these kinds of jaw-dropping “STEM misconceptions in pop culture” moments to share?  I’m looking for more reasons to break out the discomfort of this “Oh, no, they didn’t” laugh.

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2 thoughts on “Don’t forget your units, Mr. Schue!

  1. (Un)fortunately, the only relationship between my TV and I is dusting it 🙂 so I cannot answer your question.You have made an interesting point though – inaccuracy to the point it becomes ridiculous in the eyes of an expert. That only makes me wonder how well we can teach our students to filter the information they receive via diverse media channels.

  2. So forgive the History major in me. First I knew something looked wrong, but I had to break out the calculator to find out what. Then, before reading on I had a little laugh when I realized this poor guy only needed to sell 1,250 pieces of taffy to make the $5000 and not 20,000. I could’ve left well enough alone and stopped there, but I just couldn’t resist looking at the magic formulas sketched in the post. Looks like the joke’s on me.Considering this information perhaps it makes you feel a little better to know if I were in charge of the oversight it could have been worse.

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