“Raising awareness of world issues” – The pitfalls (Concepts and Exhibition)

Conceptually speaking, the trouble with 'raising awareness' of world issues in your visual arts exhibition is that in most cases, awareness has already been raised, and examiners will probably have seen your video of ice melting - or a person swimming with plastic bottles, or a collage made of rubbish, or a Photoshopped photo of chimneys belching smoke, or cars polluting with their exhaust fumes, or oil pouring into the ocean etc - many times before. Conceptual qualities mean you ...

Equilibria part 2

Last month I ran over the basics of equilibria. The rationale for this was that I felt that it was a part of the course that had been poorly answered in the recent IB May examinations. I do need to stress that this is my own personal opinion and not that of the IB. This month I will run over the more difficult concepts associated with equilibrium, Le Chatelier’s principle. Le Chateliers principle allows you to determine what happens to a system ...

Forwards, backwards, left or right? – Equilibria Part 1

There were a few questions on equilibria in this year’s May exams. As a teacher I felt that students didn’t perform very well on these questions (I have no evidence for this apart from conversations with a very small number of students who sat the exams) so thought that this month may be an opportunity to help reinforce and summarise some of the concepts covered. First of all, what do we mean by equilibrium? A reaction that is at equilibrium doesn’t ...

Get it right – Electrochemical Cells

This aim if this blog post is to equip you with an aid memoir – something you can copy, paste, edit and print out to aid your revision. The reasoning behind this post is from my experience as an examiner. In my opinion (and this may not be one shared by the IB) students tend to answer questions on electrochemical cells quite poorly. This is possibly due to the topic being one of the last topics to be taught – maybe ...

Pythagorean Triples

We are all familiar with Pythagoras' Theorem: that if a triangle with sides of length a, b, and c is right-angled, then a2 + b2 = c2. (You can find a proof of the theorem in an earlier blog here). If the sides all have integer values, then the numbers a, b, c form a "Pythagorean triple" - the simplest of which is 3, 4, 5 since 32 + 42 = 52. Further triples can be formed by simple multiplication: thus, 6, 8, 10 ...

Philosophers and the Project of Perpetual Peace (2)

Immanuel Kant’s conception of perpetual peace took into account the propositions already developed by l’Abbé de Saint-Pierre and Rousseau while exploring new routes leading to the end of all possible conflicts between so-called “civilised nations”. His preoccupation with the subject was mooted in his early writings of the 1750’s and 60’s before finding a theoretical formulation in his ‘Idea for a Universal History with a Cosmopolitan Purpose’ in 1784 and his treatise ‘Perpetual Peace: A Philosophical Sketch’, published in 1795 ...

An Easy Mathematical Trick

Start by writing the number 1089 on a piece of paper and put it in your pocket. Now get someone to choose a three digit number where the last digit is at least 2 less than the first digit. Turn it round to form a new three digit number, then subtract it from the first one. For example, 481 − 184 = 297. Now turn the new number round to form a fourth three digit number, and add it to the third. 297 + ...

Caffeine

We all love our caffeine hit in the morning, but what is this magic ‘energy’ giving substance and is it actually good for us? The IUPAC name for caffeine is 1,3,7-Trimethylpurine-2,6-dione and the molecule has the following structure: By Vaccinationist - Own work, based on PubChem, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=54417143 Interestingly, you may notice that the structure is similar to adenosine and guanine (DNA purine bases) – the clue comes from the name. Caffeine is a psychoactive drug, which puts it in the same group ...

Philosophers and the Project of Perpetual Peace (1)

The idea of a project of perpetual peace between European nations was anticipated long before the six member states of the original Economic European Union signed the Treaty of Rome in March 1957. If security and stability are often guaranteed through the agency of military force, such as the Pax Romana, long-term peace requires a deeper understanding of peoples’ aspirations and a wider perspective on what states can reasonably expect to achieve through diplomatic means.  Eighteenth-century philosophers were convinced of the ...

Surrealist theatre and design

The other day I went to see a play entitled 'Bells and Spells' by Victoria Thierree Chaplin with Aurelia Thierree and Jaime Martinez where walls move, lamp shades come to life, waistcoats turn into horses' heads and a lady could sleep on top of the washing line. This was the first time for ages where the design of the production was the key focus on the piece and we were transported into a magical world of mystery and surrealism. It was ...