I thought it would be fun to ask ChatGPT, a conversational AI that everyone is talking about this week, some questions about 7th grade math. I picked a few ideas that are often tricky for 7th graders to understand and that I often have trouble explaining clearly. I found ChatGPT’s answers really interesting. Some are spot on, and some are completely nonsensical.

First, percents:

Really clear. Probably better than I could do for this one.

Next, constant of proportionality:

That’s a pretty good explanation! A little algebra-heavy for my taste but no issues that I see.

Next, negatives:

Now I recognize that my question isn’t totally clear — multiplying two negatives makes a positive, but adding two negatives does not. Still, I’d expect the AI to explain that distinction rather than spewing some nonsense about how algebra and arithmetic are different and then incorrectly adding -5 and -3.

Next, equations:

It starts with a valid explanation: the difference has to do with the order of operations. But the computer made a few mistakes while solving both equations and doesn’t seem to understand that the goal is to find a value of x that makes the equation true.

Next, the triangle inequality theorem:

Lol. It doesn’t even know how to apply the Pythagorean Theorem, which is irrelevant anyway! Disappointing.

Next, probability:

This is perfect. For some reason this AI crushes percents, proportions and probability, but struggles with most of the rest of 7th grade math.

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