So let’s get started on those Application Forms and Essays!

So here you are, those glorious summer holidays are over.  Studies for your final year at school have started, or are about to start, and you've just been reminded by friends, tutors, advisors or parents that it's now time to start thinking about your university or college applications.  You may be thinking, 'But the year has only just started and I don't need to apply until January or even later'.  Last year's graduating students will be able to tell you ...

Optical isomerism

Optical isomers are hard to conceptualise. They are molecules with the same molecular formula and structural formula. They look exactly the same both on paper and in the real world. However, they only exist in pairs, it is only possible to get two optical isomers of the same molecule which makes things a bit easier to deal with (it should be notes that a molecule such as C5H12 has three isomers - not optical isomers but structural isomers, namely pentane, 2 methylbutane ...

Searching for the Truth

Continuing my thoughts and writing about fake news, fake web pages, teaching search skills, and ultimately, trying to find the Truth of a matter, this post brings together for your consideration two web articles which are not new, but which work well together. The first is Why Students Can't Google their Way to the Truth, by Sam Wineburg and Sarah McGrew, published 1 November 2016.  The authors describe their research at Stamford University: "Over the past 18 months, we administered assessments that ...

Catch up on useful Mathematics blogs…

I have been writing these blogs for IB Mathematics students for a year and a half now: this is my 36th. They divide into three types: a)    General interest and recreation. These blogs look at how mathematics impinges on everyday life and aim to give you a wider appreciation of its relevance. Examples are the probability behind backgammon; Olympic records; some thoughts about zero; a series of blogs about great mathematicians; mathematical puzzles. b)    Help with specific areas of mathematics, ...

Making an entrance – TEAM

This week I have been running a Theatre Laboratory with my grade 10 and 11 students on what we bring when we enter the stage. We are moving onto exits next week, but I thought I would share with you what they explored with entrances for this blog. We discovered that with an entrance you can establish: character mood motive environment relationships objects in the environment status atmosphere conflict story backstory other characters off stage foreshadowing subtext and more... When you are ...

Waste management in China

By Friday, September 15, 2017 No tags 0

In 2016 China imported more than half the world’s exports of scrap copper and waste paper, and half of its used plastic. China spent over $18bn on imports of rubbish in 2016. America, meanwhile, is an eager supplier. In 2016 nearly 25% of USA’s biggest exporters by volume were recyclers of paper, plastic or metal. Chung Nam, a California-based supplier of waste paper exported 333,900 containers, almost all of them to China! However, this is likely to change. On July 18th ...

A democratic paradox

Democracy depends on people voting for their leaders, but there are many different voting systems in use, all of which aim for a fair result: first past the post; single transferable vote; alternative vote plus are three examples. All have advantages, all have disadvantages. Many popular voting methods use a system which allows voters to select candidates in order of preference. Suppose there are three candidates, A, B and C. You would expect that if more voters preferred A to B, ...

Pump up your verbs, please

In all of your essays, whether they are demanded for your Written Assignments, your commentaries, or your Paper 2 essay, you can win the heart of your examiners by moving beyond the conventional verbs you use to talk about literature.  Show, demonstrate, characterize, suggest, reveal, portray: all of these are good, valid and useful, and sometimes just the right one for your purposes. However, maybe you'd like to extend your options. How about 'intimate' for 'suggest?' ' The poet intimates that perhaps ...

Ageing population in South Korea

Earlier this year, scientists predicted that women born in South Korea in 2030 will live, on average, until they are 90, thereby over-taking Japan in terms of female life expectancy. Basic demographic indicators Age structure % of the population 0-14 years 13.45% 15-24 years 13.08% 25-54 years 45.93% 55-64 years 14.01% 65 years + 13.53% Median age 41.2 years Crude birth rate 8.4% Crude death rate 5.8% Life expectancy 82.4 years (female 85.8 years, male 79.3 years) (Source CIA World Factbook) The study suggests that South Koreans will experience the greatest rise in life expectancy in the industrialised world, ...

Six of the Best (comparative study issues and advice)

It’s September, so some of you will be just starting the bright and shiny adventure that is IBDP visual arts, while others will be returning for your final year. So (unless you have already completed it) part of the visual arts coursework that you will be/are engaged in is the Comparative Study. Examiners have now seen work uploaded for three examination sessions (May 2016 and 2017, and November 2016), and some issues and patterns are beginning to emerge. This blog is not intended ...