‘War and Peace’: why not?

If you may have found that summer and all its anticipated pleasures are sometimes not quite meeting your expectations, why not do something daring?  People, not just your peers, but just about everyone who reads at all, probably looks at a novel of the length of Tolstoi's War and Peace as a challenge they just might not want to take on. But, you, on the other hand, might just like to join that club of people with real guts and strong wills ...

Soil and water pollution in China

Soil and water pollution is an increasing problem in China. Soil contamination occurs in most countries with a lot of farmland, heavy industry and mining. In Ukraine, for example, which has all three, about 8% of the land is contaminated. However, China is the world’s largest producer of food and of heavy industrial commodities such as steel and cement. China’s soil contamination is so great that it is impossible to remove all the contaminants. The country has many brownfield sites (contaminated ...

Video Resources – Are we defined by the objects we create?

Simply some great video resources linked below that can be used to inspire students and teachers either by viewing clips in the classroom, or alternatively doing as flipped classroom tasks and questions outside of the classroom : - A great video looking at why designers are so inspired to create and innovative with new products - with some great quotes regarding why they do what they do - "To Ive, it's an illness." "To others, it's desire." https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=09OeQayBGCY A fabulous Youtube channel for ...

The espionage act of 1917 and opposition to the First World War in North America

On June 15, 1917 the US Congress passed the Espionage Act which, while modified over the years, has remained in tact as legislation for a century.  This Act addressed key concerns from that point in time: 'interference' in military recruitment interception of materials considered seditious or treasonous by the US Postmaster prohibited the transference of information to a foreign agent that may could hinder the US war effort Passing the legislation was not at all surprising or unusual; all European countries had ...

Japan’s changing demography

Japan’s ageing population is having a number of impacts – some demographic, some social and economic and even some technological! Japan has entered a vicious cycle of low fertility and low spending that has led to a huge decline in lost GDP and a population decline of 1 million people, all since 2012. One commentator has suggested that it is death of the Japanese family. A 2016 study conducted by a Japanese research firm found that even though nearly 70% of ...

Some websites to prevent mathematical cobwebs

If you have a long break this (Northern hemisphere) summer, it's important to keep your brain ticking over mathematically so that you don't have to start up from cold when you go back to school next term. I've been on the lookout for some recreational mathematical activity on the web: even just a few minutes each day will be beneficial. I've included a partial screenshot from each site. Pattern recognition Enlarge any one of these 240 patterns. You have to work out ...

Philosophy in Western Movies

The summer break should be an opportunity to get away from academic books and maybe indulge in the discovery of inspiring novels. But what about films? Twentieth-century philosophers have, on the whole, neglected what the French call ‘le septième art’ as very few thinkers critically studied the moving image, with the exceptions of Gilles Deleuze (‘Cinéma’) or Jean Baudrillard who deconstructed the hypnotic power of images in ‘Simulacra and Simulation’. But what of the young Sartre, who declared himself an ...

Two stories of innovation – the Bread Clip and the Fidget Spinner

Often stories re innovation only focus on those that have succeeded and even if we have heard the Dyson story a thousand times I believe it is useful to flag with students some of the reasons that the lone innovator/inventor does not succeed. Often this is simply due to bad luck, lack of resources or simply that they give up! A recent story is that of the ubiquitous fidget spinner that has invaded classrooms this year. The inventor Catherine Hettinger tried ...

Great Mathematicians 4 – Euclid

Given that Euclid's influence on mathematics, geometry in particular, has never diminished over two thousand years, it is extraordinary that we know so little about his life. He was born around 300BC, and was amongst the first teachers at the great university of Alexandria, founded by Ptolemy I, but it is likely that he studied mathematics in Athens with some of Plato's students. Euclid wrote around a dozen influential mathematical books, but it is his 13 volume treatise The Elements ...

Synthesis of Aspirin

Aspirin has been with us for long time - the first documented reports of its use occurred over 2000 years ago. That said, the aspirin may not be in the form that you instantly think of (ie, a tablet) but it has been used all the same. Aspirin is an analgesic, which means it has pain killing effects and it has been well documented that the ancient Egyptians used a special tea made out of willow bark to treat a number ...