Hydrogen

We are currently having a space themed week in school to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the moon landings. not quite the 50th anniversary, more like 49 and 49/50ths (Armstrong walked on the lunar surface on the 16th July 1969) but as we break up on Friday it was the best the school could do. The students have a few days off timetable and are engaged in many different activities that relate to the moon landings. In chemistry, I guess we have ...

Why so generous? – IA predictions

(i.e. why are the marks awarded by teachers for the visual arts IA component – the Exhibition – sometimes wildly unrealistic?) A group of IA moderators were chatting about their experiences in the last examination session. One moderator posed the question: why are some teachers so generous with their marks? Here are some of the ideas that surfaced relating to the different issues involved. 1 MISUNDERSTANDING GLOBAL STANDARDS This is probably the biggest cause of inaccurate teacher marks. Some teachers may not understand what the ...

Chernobyl

I’m half way through watching the new HBO / Sky miniseries Chernobyl. Have you seen it? Here in the UK it has received some great reviews with some critics claiming it is the best TV series ever produced. Chernobyl, as you probably know was a nuclear power station in the Ukraine that exploded with catastrophic consequences in 1986. If you study option C, Energy you will look at nuclear fission and fusion in section C3. Chernobyl was a fission reaction. In a ...

Using Catalysts in Lab Work – a Slightly Different Approach

I imagine that, as teachers, we all carry out a hydrogen peroxide decomposition using manganese dioxide. We may also demo cracking where we use aluminium oxide or silicon oxide as a catalyst. This aside, do we really make much use of catalysts in our lab work? https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p5qvi20J5IM The other day I was carrying out a lab with my students that involved collecting hydrogen by upwards displacement of water, using magnesium and hydrochloric acid. We are also fortunate to have a fantastic lab ...

Is New Realism all that new?

Markus Gabriel is the new rising star of German Philosophy with the success of his book ‘Why the World does not Exist’, first published in 2013, a year after Maurizio Ferraris’s ‘Manifesto for a New Realism’. The thirty-nine year old Professor invites his reader to reconsider the question already raised in 1986 by Thomas Nagel in his stimulating ‘Views From Nowhere’: ‘How to combine the perspective of a particular person inside the world with an objective view of that same ...

Two issues with curatorial rationales

As an IA (Exhibition) moderator I very often read a) eloquent and frequently passionate curatorial rationales that do not achieve the mark that perhaps the student expected, and  b) rationales that are not eloquent, but instead tend to be convoluted, frustrating and impenetrable. Here are some tips in relation to these two issues that you might want to pass on to your students when they go about writing their curatorial rationales: a) rationales that do not achieve the mark that perhaps the student expected This is about assessment: ...

Michel Serres. Messenger of Knowledge

The world of philosophy has lost one of its most popular figures with the death of Michel Serres on June 1st. First attracted to a career in the French Navy, the young officer soon realised that philosophy was his true passion along with mathematics and the history of science. On the strength of his eclectic philosophical knowledge, he went on to elaborate a five-volume theory of communication under the aegis of Hermes, the Greek god of trade and commerce. Like the ...

Colorimetry

I love carrying out colorimetry, it is one of my favorite types of labs to carry out and I do believe that as teachers, it is a really underused type of lab and undervalued type of lab. I always teach the theory first, covering the ideas behind the Beer-Lambert Law and the way that a colorimeter works. We will usually start off by getting the class to make up standard solutions of copper sulfate (0.1 mol dm-3 to 1.0 mol dm-3 ...

Theatre and Mindfulness

This month in the UK there is a focus on wellbeing and mental health, which of course links to mindfulness, which is what many schools are embracing as part of their Advisory programmes. Soon I am going to be running a workshop in my local community on wellbeing and creativity, so I have been reading up about creative mindfulness. The blog this month is going to share some mindfulness exercises that you can try out with your students, but I ...

Paper Two: Students Teaching Students

How can teachers ensure that they offer revision activities that benefit a variety of skills and learning styles in their classroom? Here are some tried and tested activities that I like to use to prepare my mixed ability class for Paper Two. 1. Poster making Students create posters using drawings, quotes, summaries of themes, plot turning points, narrative devices or character overviews, etc. I use large butcher's paper and display in the classroom in the weeks leading up exams. Students take photos and share ...