PORT RICHEY — How well do you know your country and government?
That's what four middle school students in the Presidents' Club at Dayspring Academy wanted to know. So, equipped with clip boards and pencils, Dominique Pagnozzi, Elizabeth Kilpatrick, Ashley Clayton and Brittney Ohmart hit the local mall, churches, restaurants and their own neighborhoods and asked 100 folks these questions:
1. How many branches of government are in the United States, and what are they?
2. How many states are in the United States?
3. Are the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution the same document?
4. What countries border the continental United States?
5. Are Washington, D.C., and Washington the same thing?
The results were a little surprising, said Dominique, noting that "One person said France bordered the United States and someone else said New Mexico."
Others listed the fire department, police department, forestry service and IRS as branches of government. More than a few folks said there were 53 states.
"I think it's kind of sad that people know the names of American Idol contestants but they don't know the number of states," said Elizabeth.
Of course this was an unscientific survey.
"The data they collected was really raw and this was really an informal kind of poll," said social studies teacher Nitza Lord.
But the students came up with ideas to improve the survey the next time around.
"We'll try to interview the same amount of men and women and an equal amount of people in different age groups," she said.
A word to the wise: Brush up.