Greetings, all, on this 50th anniversary of Earth Day when we will not be outside in happy throngs agitating on behalf of Mother Earth, celebrating our place in the sun, our common home, and resolving to be more caring stewards. Still. I hope you are staying home, staying alive, staying strong.
When I was growing up, my mother collected the quizzes published each month in Parenting magazine and read them aloud to us on car trips. They work just as well when sheltering at home. Try this one with your family. (Any mistakes are mine but credit for help with the questions goes to Ted Glasoe, Steve Packard, John Rogner, Justin Hart, Alfred Saucedo, Greg Busch, and Allison Fore.)
1. The term “headwaters” refers to
(a) Weak drinks distributed by headwaiters
(b) A fluid that may need to be drained by people too full of themselves
(c) The source of a stream
(d) The start of a long trip
2. The name “Michigan” derives from an Ojibwe word meaning what?
(a) Many lakes
(b) Beach house
(c) Two peninsulas
(d) Big water
3. What are the opening words of the official Illinois state song?
(a) “Just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world“
(b) “Saturday, in the park, I think it was the 4th of July“
(c) “By the rivers gently flowing, Illinois, Illinois“
(d) “Rawhide“ in A! "Keep movin’ movin’ movin’, though they’re disapprovin’“
4. Which of the following statements is not true?
(a) Scientists have shown that Illinois is, mathematically speaking, flatter than a pancake
(b) The Drummer Soil Series is a tractor attachment manufactured by John Deere
(c) The Tully Monster has been recognized by Illinois State Law
(d) In the 1950s, Chicago’s lakefront was dotted with anti-aircraft missile installations
5. Since its founding, the City of Chicago has stretched out into Lake Michigan by filling in land. Which of the following landmarks sits on land that was not originally lakebed?
(a) Adler Planetarium
(b) Willis Tower
(c) Lincoln Park Zoo
(d) Grant Park
6. True or False? The coldest water is always at the bottom of Lake Michigan.
7. Water at the bottom of the ocean is under tremendous pressure. What happens when this water is compressed by all the water on top of it?
(a) It becomes LaCroix
(b) The bonds between the oxygen and hydrogens is so tight that the water remains a liquid, which is the densest form of water
(c) It becomes a solid (ice) and floats up to the surface where it forms the base of icebergs
8. How much water is in a ½-litre water bottle?
(a) Just over two cups
(b) One and a half litres
(c) Not enough
9. “Virtual water” refers to
(a) The water you see on a TV screen or smartphone screen
(b) The amount of water required to produce something
(c) A “hydration supplement” heavily promoted by Silicon Valley entrepreneur and Theranos co-founder Elizabeth Holmes, until it was discovered on the eve of the IPO that the product was in fact mostly water with a bit of seaweed extract mixed in
(d) The “moisture-puff” technology employed by Whirlpool brand micro-flow bidets to conserve water and eliminate the need for toilet paper
10. Cambium is
(a) The given name of MWRD Commissioner Cam Davis
(b) A layer of tissue between the bark and wood of a tree that is responsible for growth
(c) An element between silver and indium on the periodic table
11. Xylem is
(a) An international water company that makes pumps, flow meters, and data analytics to solve water problems
(b) The vascular tissue in plants that conducts water and dissolved nutrients upward from the root and also helps to form the woody element in the stem.
(c) A baby xylophone
12. When an inch of rain falls on a typical Chicago city lot (approx. 12 x 125 ft.), how many gallons does that equal?
(a) Exactly 500 gallons
(b) Almost 1,000 gallons
(c) Almost 2,000 gallons
(d) Almost 12,000 gallons
13. On certain days, the skyline of Chicago is visible from the opposite shore of Lake Michigan. Why does this happen on some days but not others?
(a) The Earth is flat and without fog it is possible to see that far
(b) The water in Lake Michigan expands and contracts such that Chicago is pulled closer during certain points of the year
(c) People in Michigan are simply more tall, and they can see further
(d) Temperature differences in the atmosphere refract light coming from Chicago, making the buildings appear visible from farther away
14. An overhead sewer is a pipe that
(a) Brings water from the second floor down to the basement
(b) Breaks over my head too often
(c) Raises the lowest opening in a home’s plumbing to be well above the level of an overflowing sewer, which prevents water and sewage from backing up into one’s basement
15. Ecological community means
(a) A group of volunteer stewards
(b) Plants, animals, and micro-organisms in local symbiosis
(c) Both of the above
16. What is the soggiest municipal place name in Cook County, IL?
(a) Blue Island
(c) Des Plaines
(f) River Forest
(g) River Grove
(k) Western Springs
(l) Willow Springs
17. Where might you find rat-tailed maggots, ramshorns, cattails, arrowheads, and darners?
(a) At a Meet-up off the 606 in Chicago
(b) In a pond
(c) In a bar at 2 a.m.
18. What is the home of a beaver called?
(a) Man cave
(c) Floating motel
(e) Gilligan’s Island
19. What is the rarest water creature in Cook County, IL?
(a) Someone who knows what muffin monster means
(b) Chicago Party Aunt after falling into the river (again)
20. Water cycles constantly in the Great Lakes, with old water flowing out and new water flowing in. Scientists calculate a "residence time" based on the amount of time it takes to replace the full volume of a lake with new water. If you dumped a bottle of water into Lake Michigan today, what year would it be before all of the water from your bottle was no longer in Lake Michigan?
21. True or false? The atmosphere contains more water than all the rivers in the world.
22. The lowest habitable point in Chicago is 365 feet below ground and can be found at:
(a) The sub-basement of the James R. Thompson Center
(b) The Calumet Tunnel and Reservoir Pumping Station
(c) The basement of the Willis Tower
23. Isham Randolph, former chief engineer of the Sanitary District of Chicago (now Metropolitan Water Reclamation District or MWRD), led the MWRD’s work to reverse the flow of the Chicago River by constructing 61 miles of canal, including the Chicago Sanitary and Ship Canal. What other major engineering project did Randolph play a role in designing?
(a) Golden Gate Bridge
(b) English Channel Tunnel
(c) Panama Canal
24. How many different fish species have been counted in the Chicago Area Waterway System since the MWRD began monitoring in the mid-1970s?
25. Which of the following has not been rescued at an MWRD facility?
26. The MWRD has been checking the health and variety of fish in the Chicago Area Waterways for 40 years. What is the largest fish by weight ever pulled?
(a) 20 pound female carp
(b) 30 pound female carp
(c) 40 pound female carp
27. How much fun has this quiz been?
(a) Holy moly unbelievably fun
(b) You’re kidding me, right?
(c) Please, as soon as it is safe to do so, return to your regularly scheduled programming
1. c; 2. d; 3. c; 4. b; 5. b (Source: Encyclopedia of Chicago); 6. False; 7. b; 8. b; 9. b (example: it takes 2,108 gallons of water to make one pair of blue jeans); 10. b; 11. a and b; 12. c (1,948 gallons, which weighs over 8 tons!); 13. d; 14. c; 15. c; 16. Hell if I know; 17. b (rat-tailed maggots are fly larvae, ramshorns are snails, cattails and arrowheads are plants, and darners are dragonflies); 18. d; 19. c; 20. a (Lake Michigan's residence time is 62 years. Source: NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory); 21. True (Source: USGS); 22. b; 23. c; 24. c; 25. a; 26. c; 27. There is no wrong answer.