The world will not self-destruct next Wednesday

I had promised my Year 8 class to post a link to The Elements Song, by Tom Lehrer; well, here is a link to the flash version, and also to the lyrics.

But I keep having people meeting me down the corridor or in the cafeteria asking me about “this experiment that may blow up the entire planet“. So I try to calm them down, and tell them that the people at CERN are the kind of people who know what they are doing. After all, these are the same people who invented the World Wide Web and it works pretty well, right?

As far as I am concerned, I am looking forward to visiting CERN next November with my Year 13, and I am quite certain it will not have been sucked up by a black hole by then. And I get even more excited by that after seeing this amazing set of images.

So after you have read all the above, clicked all the links and convinced yourselves that you don’t need to cancel your date on Thursday night, I leave you with this wonderful Large Hadron Rap. Enjoy!

 

Need for speed

What a good class discussion with my Year 9 this afternoon!

We took some interesting data as to the top speeds that can be achieved by their cars – no, my dear Focus did not go into the conversation – and wondering why cars needed such a speed, if the legal speed is around 120-130 km/h pretty much everywhere in the world. (Yes, Germany is an exception)

So I then asked students to think what new features they should incorporate – in cars, in roads, perhaps even in laws – so that those speeds were accessible, and what the problems are.

We are thinking of the cars of the future.

And some people got there before we did – I just found this series on Discovery Channel called “Future Car“- and it looks certainly interesting! Here are the first 10 minutes of the first episode to get you in the mood…

Now it is your turn – have your say! How do you want your Future Car to be?

(Oh and by the way, comments are moderated, so they may take some time to appear after you have sent them – remember to include your name!)

Restart

This blog has been hibernating for a few months. Meanwhile, I have changed job, city, country…

nerds her you go! the CTRL+ALT+DEL PARTYThe new academic year is about to start, so it is time to put this blog back into action. I hope I will have time to play with themes and settings before students find this.

This, by the way, will be the main change: from now on, this blog will be solely for discussions with my students – present and also past if they so wish. While previously I posted some reflections about teaching in this blog, I have decided to keep those separate and so a new blog will soon hit the RSS readers. If you find this, let me know and I’ll tell you where I hide.

Meanwhile, sit back, enjoy what is left of the holiday if you still can, and get ready to rock&roll…

Ch-ch-ch-changes…

Take off

Since the story is beginning to leak out in my school, I may as well go public on this one: “my school” will no longer be this one after the summer. I have accepted a similar teaching position in a new school, new city, new country. (Image courtesy of Creativesam)

I am at the same time excited about the new challenges and worried about the possible difficulties; it is also a time to reflect on what I am leaving behind, especially in terms of the people I have worked most closely with over the last seven years: my students.

However, we still have two months to enjoy – and plenty of exams to pass – so I will not allow myself to go into “melancholic mode” until it is the right time. I hope that this will be an excellent occasion to prove that we live in a connected world, and that physical distance does not have to imply losing touch.

This has already been good proof of connectivity, as one of the first people to find out did so after discovering me on twitter. Perhaps it is a lesson for us teachers that if we “talk out loud” in a public world, anyone can listen to us.

Oh, and a final note on the title – no, this is not me stuttering… The elder members of my audience may have caught a reference to David Bowie’s song; younger ones might have heard a cover in the movies

Keep writing!

Year 10: The Space Debate

So this is how a traditional lesson goes:

  • You start a topic from the text book and discuss the main concepts involved in class.
  • You end the lesson with an open question and you ask the students to write down their thoughts for homework
  • The day after, you run a class debate in which students use the arguments they have researched to go even deeper in their thoughts.

And this is a simple way to expand that into a 21st century lesson (not the best one, but let us hope it works!):

  • You do all the above, and then you write a blog post on the issue and ask your students – and anyone else – to comment on it.

So here we are. The debating issue is We should stop spending money in space exploration. My Year 10 Physics students provided an interesting range of arguments, which I will try to summarise.

For:

  • Money would be better spent in helping poor countries in Africa
  • We have already made the most of space exploration, and we are never going to find alien life or anything like that
  • We do not discuss the benefits that space exploration has brought – satellites, etc – but this is not a priority anymore.

Against:

  • We do not know what else we will find out there. Space research has already brought us lots of discoveries and inventions (plasma screens, GPS, etc)
  • Money not spent on space exploration would not necessarily go into helping other countries, and it probably would not be enough anyway.
  • Humans are explorers by nature, and the quest for space is a challenge for us.

I hope I got things right, but I am sure my students will correct me otherwise. If any of my readers want to give their opinion on the subject, or (for teachers) bring their class in and share their thoughts, they will be more than welcome!

My students – remember to sign your comments using your initials so I know who you are!

May the force be with you…

Tecnología Industrial: Proyecto Empresa

Como cada año, en el tercer trimestre de la asignatura de Tecnología Industrial los alumnos tienen que realizar el Proyecto Empresa. Se trata de cubrir todos los aspectos que rodean el desarrollo de un producto tecnológico, como la constitución de una empresa, el estudio de mercado, la elaboración de presupuestos, el diseño artístico y técnico del producto o la realización de campañas de publicidad.

La novedad de este año es que cada grupo va a tener que llevar un diario electrónico (en forma de blog) en el que expliquen lo que van haciendo. Los blogs de los distintos grupos están enlazados en la barra lateral, y también en estos enlaces. (Espero que el tercer grupo halle un nombre comercial en un futuro no lejano)

En este blog iré haciendo referencia a sus progresos e incluyendo información que pueda ser relevante para todos los grupos, así que espero (hint hint) que pongan un enlace en sus barras laterales.

En fin, para terminar, os dejo algunas ideas de productos ¿posibles?

Examen parcial 2º Bachillerato y soluciones

Como he prometido esta mañana, aquí os adjunto el examen parcial de Magnetismo, así como mis soluciones. Todos los problemas están sacados de exámenes de selectividad de la Comunidad de Madrid de los últimos 3 años; en el solucionario tenéis las fechas. En este caso saqué todos los problemas de esta página. En la barra lateral podéis ver algún enlace más de problemas que he guardado en mi cuenta de del.icio.us.

Mi intención inicial era subir los archivos al sitio de Documentos de Google para que fueran más accesibles, pero las imágenes y las ecuaciones hacen que no se conviertan correctamente, así que es necesario disponer de MS Word para abrirlos. Para los que tengáis el examen mañana, espero que os sea útil; para los demás, ya sabéis lo que dijo el César

Actualización 06/04/08: Cuando estaba corrigiendo los exámenes me he dado cuenta de que había cometido algunos errores en el solucionario. Había un error numérico en la pregunta 2, y dos apartados del ejercicio 3 estaban cambiados de orden; además, en el último párrafo de ese ejercico me había equivocado con los signos. Vuelvo a subir el documento con los cambios. Disculpen las molestias.

Northern Lights and Nuclear Bombs

It doesn’t happen often that I can find something relevant for two of my courses; but I have been teaching magnetic fields to my Year 13 class, while my Year 11 are looking at radioactivity and the Northern Lights.

So here is an interesting article about a bizarre 1950s experiment that could be interesting – it involved exploding nuclear bombs in outer space, so that a stream of charged particles would be produced travelling along the magnetic field of the Earth. This would create a radiation belt which would affect enemy satellites.

I have not been brave enough to watch the entire 45 minute video, but the diagram is really quite something…  Oh, and for my newly-found bunch of foreign readers, if anyone is interested, more information in the usual place.

Fifteen minutes of edublogging fame

I should comb my hair and sort my clothes… I am expecting visitors!As a newbie edublogger, you don’t expect to get that much community attention… but this morning I read this really interesting post by Sue Waters and posted a comment on it. Sue is always kind enough to reply to all her comments, but this time she went a lot further and quoted me on her next post!

So if you have dropped by following her link, say hello. As you can see, we are still under construction, but we hope to have this place up and running soon. I might put one of those fancy Clustrmaps up just to enjoy the red dots… I am, after all, enjoying Andy Warhol’s fifteen minutes of fame. (Image by Feistypoo)

Andy Warhol