Do You Have the Smarts to Pass Harvard’s Entrance Exam—From 1869?

smolaw11/iStock via Getty Images
smolaw11/iStock via Getty Images

Back in the 19th century, when higher education wasn’t yet the norm for the majority of Americans, even top-notch universities placed newspaper ads to attract applicants with promises like free tuition, prime room and board, and more.

According to The New York Times, they also held entrance exams right up to the very weekend before classes started to ensure that every possible high school graduate had the chance to make a last-minute, life-changing decision to pursue a college degree.

If you’re thinking back to your own harrowing, drawn-out college admissions process and fantasizing about Harvard University begging you to go there in the 1860s, pause your daydream long enough to read the rest of this article—because you might think Harvard’s entrance exam from that era was more of a nightmare than anything else.

In addition to subjects like geometry and algebra that you might have known at some point but have since forgotten, the 1869 test includes subjects that you very likely never learned at all.

Do you have enough background in ancient geography, for example, to name the chief rivers of Ancient Gaul, or explain who Jugurtha was?

And even if you have a few years of Latin under your belt, you might still find it difficult to translate this sentence:

“In the first of the spring the consul came to Ephesus, and having received the troops from Scipio he held a speech in-presence-of the soldiers, in which, after extolling their bravery, he exhorted them to undertake a new war with the Gauls, who had [as he said] helped Antiochus with auxiliaries.”

Compared to those sections, most of the arithmetic questions seem relatively manageable, but only if you can whip out your handy pocket calculator—a device that wasn’t popularized until the mid-20th century.

Hopefully, the future faces of Harvard were at least allowed to use slide rules to divide 33,368,949.63 by 0.007253, or find the cube root of 0.0093 to five decimal places.

While the curriculum has evolved enough in the last 150 years to make this exam seem like quite a doozy to us, prospective students apparently fared well. According to IFLScience, Harvard boasted in a newspaper ad that 185 out of 210 candidates passed the test.

Check out the full exam [PDF] to see just how many answers you know (or don’t know), and find out 11 other ways school was different in the 1800s here.

[h/t IFLScience]

Turn Your LEGO Bricks Into a Drone With the Flybrix Drone Kit

Flyxbrix/FatBrain
Flyxbrix/FatBrain

Now more than ever, it’s important to have a good hobby. Of course, a lot of people—maybe even you—have been obsessed with learning TikTok dances and baking sourdough bread for the last few months, but those hobbies can wear out their welcome pretty fast. So if you or someone you love is looking for something that’s a little more intellectually stimulating, you need to check out the Flybrix LEGO drone kit from Fat Brain Toys.

What is a Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit?

The Flybrix drone kit lets you build your own drones out of LEGO bricks and fly them around your house using your smartphone as a remote control (via Bluetooth). The kit itself comes with absolutely everything you need to start flying almost immediately, including a bag of 56-plus LEGO bricks, a LEGO figure pilot, eight quick-connect motors, eight propellers, a propeller wrench, a pre-programmed Flybrix flight board PCB, a USB data cord, a LiPo battery, and a USB LiPo battery charger. All you’ll have to do is download the Flybrix Configuration Software, the Bluetooth Flight Control App, and access online instructions and tutorials.

Experiment with your own designs.

The Flybrix LEGO drone kit is specifically designed to promote exploration and experimentation. All the components are tough and can totally withstand a few crash landings, so you can build and rebuild your own drones until you come up with the perfect design. Then you can do it all again. Try different motor arrangements, add your own LEGO bricks, experiment with different shapes—this kit is a wannabe engineer’s dream.

For the more advanced STEM learners out there, Flybrix lets you experiment with coding and block-based coding. It uses an arduino-based hackable circuit board, and the Flybrix app has advanced features that let you try your hand at software design.

Who is the Flybrix LEGO Drone Kit for?

Flybrix is a really fun way to introduce a number of core STEM concepts, which makes it ideal for kids—and technically, that’s who it was designed for. But because engineering and coding can get a little complicated, the recommended age for independent experimentation is 13 and up. However, kids younger than 13 can certainly work on Flybrix drones with the help of their parents. In fact, it actually makes a fantastic family hobby.

Ready to start building your own LEGO drones? Click here to order your Flybrix kit today for $198.

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How the Trapper Keeper Trapped the Hearts of '80s and '90s Kids

Courtesy of Cinzia Reale-Castello
Courtesy of Cinzia Reale-Castello

No matter when or where you grew up, back-to-school shopping typically revolved around two things: clothing and school supplies. And if you’re an adult of a certain age, you probably had a Trapper Keeper on that latter list of must-buy items.

Like the stickers, skins, and cases that adorn your smartphones and laptops today, Trapper Keepers were a way for kids to express their individual personalities. The three-ring binders dominated classrooms in the '80s and '90s, and featured a vast array of designs—from colorful Lisa Frank illustrations to photos of cool cars and popular celebrities—that allowed kids to customize their organizational tools. 

In this episode of "Throwback," we're ripping open the Velcro cover and digging into the history of the Trapper Keeper. You can watch the full episode below.

Be sure to head here and subscribe so you don't miss an episode of "Throwback," where we explore the fascinating stories behind some of the greatest toys and trends from your childhood.