“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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...