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Max dAyala

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Everything posted by Max dAyala

  1. It's interesting that recently I had a significant attack on my Science Forum. I've had several persistent spammers posting on it recently. What's worse is that I guess I had a DNS attack of some sort. A quick look at the server logs shows that a single IP address (looked to be an AOL address from reverse DNS lookup) requested something like 20,000 pages in just over one hour. Looks like I'll have to take better security precautions, although I'm not sure how you can stop someone from automatically requesting a page. Max
  2. Looks like I've found it. Let's see if it is worth reading. Royal Society, Assessment of Science Learning 14-19
  3. I'm not so sure. There is a lot I would disagree with. This just seems to be a collection of soundbites without much substance. Anyone can throw together the old cliches of "if only teachers did it this way, students would be so much better at...". Does anyone know how it is possible to get hold of a copy of the original report that is mentioned? I'd like to read it. Max
  4. Simulations are mentioned in the Reports from last year: From the AQA June 2003 GCSE Report, Double Award, Spec B (I downloaded this from their web site.) Someone mentioned simulations in another thread, including one available on the web (subscription I think.) The best bet would be to use an existing simulation package if it can be made to work within the GCSE mark system. A good simulation package is a hefty piece of software and would require a considerable investment in money to write it. I'm not sure anyone would consider writing one aimed just at GCSE Coursework because it is unlikely to make much money. If the government overhauls the coursework component, as is rumoured to be the case, then only a fool would sit down and waste lots of time and money on a product that they may not have a market for in 1 or 2 years time. Max
  5. Like any other coursework you have to be able to work out the contribution provided by the student, and the contribution provided by the software. If the software does most of the work the students are limited to a low maximum mark. The more choice the students have in setting up the simulation the more likely it is that they can gain high marks. You would have to evaluate each piece of software on its own merits. For example, if the simulation produces near perfect results and automatically generates a graph with best fit line the students have done next to nothing themselves. So you can't give them marks for it. There has to be an appropriate level of data processing and analysis at an individual student level. Given a suitable program I am sure it could work well. I don't have any first hand experience of any simulations so I can't recommend any. Max dayala.co.uk/
  6. Most things in science are called a "theory" because they are incomplete. Most of the scientists I know consider the process of evolution to be a fact, with many of the components still "theories". The "quantum theory" is another incomplete theory, but nobody demands that the workings of microchips be questioned. The "gravitational theory" is incomplete but nobody demands that we question whether objects will always fall when we drop them. The "sub-atomic particle theories" are incomplete, but nobody demands that we question whether the chairs that we are sitting on at our computer desks are really there. Max
  7. I'm sure you get much better support when you pay for it. The Invision boards do run using PHP and MySQL so I could use one. I'm not sure that I could justify spending two hundred dollars (for a single lifetime installation) for something that I run just as a hobby. I'll have to wait and see how well it works. If it causes too many problems I'll look round for something else. Max
  8. An Update Shortly after I wrote the above message my free forum host shut down so I had to look for a new BB. I've installed a PHP driven BB called "phpBB". In terms of layout it looks very similar to this forum. The web address is: http://www.8886.co.uk/forum/ I haven't used this Forum before and it has taken quite a lot of effort to get it up and running. It should be working now, but if anyone finds any faults with it let me know. For some reason I do not feel confident in its ability to work well without a lot of Admin maintenance. Does anyone have any experience of other PHP (or possibly PEARL) Forums? I tried a simpler PHP Forum called PUN but it crashed my development server and I didn't fancy carrying that one any further. Thanks, Max
  9. People who write things like this are usually "well off" and not in immediate danger of the numerous random threats life has to offer. I am sure there are many less well off people who would disagree with him. As I see it the whole global warming idea is complex, and the effects take years to show. Like many other things, taking a path that causes the least amount of pollution etc would seem like a good idea. However, most people are essentially too selfish** to give a monkeys about it, so nothing of significance is likely to get done. **Most people can't help this, it is part of our nature as just another animal on the planet. Most people are not as special or clever as they "believe" they are. Max
  10. Plagarism is always a problem. In the case of the free encyclopedias people should put a link to other web pages rather than copy information. I'm not sure how strictly information that is added to the encyclopedia is checked, if at all. I would have thought to protect themselves they would at least do some sort of key phrase search to see if information has been illegally copied from other web sites. Max
  11. Wiki GCSE Science Text Book This looks like an interesting idea. I've found some of the reference sections in the main Wiki Encyclopedia to be very good. The GCSE text book is currently mostly empty. It would be interesting to get students to fill in some sections. This would be a good revision and learning exercise. They could prepare a short entry and then add it. Max
  12. I have had this forum on my Science site for a few years: http://agnes.vestris.com/cgi-one/one/agnes...ci8886AgnesHTML It was set up as a free forum before I had my own web space and I haven't got round to updating it to a newer version. I found with many of the forums that they were too complicated and I wanted a simple clean version that a student who hadn't used a BB before could get to grips with. Most newer forums seem to have converged to a very similar layout (like this education forum) although I think for someone who hasn't used one before they must look a bit bewildering. I guess features I'd look for in a newer forum would be ease of moving posts so that I could archive or keep near the top useful topics. Another reason I haven't upgraded is that it doesn't get into search engine listings, the hosts must have done something to block it. In some ways I am grateful because I couldn't handle a large number of questions, as well as the spam that has to be deleted. What you also soon realise is that most of the students who use the forum don't search to see if the question has been asked before. Also, many of the questions could easily be answered with a quick search using Google. So I guess many students lack skills in effective use of search engines. On top of that many of the questions are so vague that it is difficult to answer them. It does get lots of "silent" visitors who don't post, it is difficult to know how many of them find anything of use during their visit. Max 8886 GCSE Science Coursework www.8886.co.uk
  13. Atkins Diet There was an interesting Horizon program on BBC2 last night (22 Jan) about The Atkins diet. Lots of good ideas about the principles of scientific investigation in a topical context. (E.g. having identical twins in sealed chambers for a week. One on a low fat diet, one on the Atkins diet. Taking lots of measurements and then making conclusions and evaluating the experiment.) Selected highlights could be useful as a classroom resource for discussion. Maybe you could get them to plan an investigation into measuring the phenomenon of "Atkins breath" ????? Max
  14. I can still remember reading lists of characteristics of good teachers when I did my teacher training. I think that if you had all those qualities mentioned so far you wouldn't be just a good teacher you'd be a brilliant teacher. I can certainly think of many teachers I have worked with that I would rank as being very good teachers. (Very good at interacting with other teachers as well as students!) Personally, I know I'm deficient in some of these traits, although probably above average in a few of them as well. So overall I would hopefully come out about average; I can think of some pupils who seemed to hate me, others I got on really well with. (I'm no longer a class room teacher.) It's difficult to judge who were the best teachers when I was at school. Most of them were competent, a few dreadful, but having seen the other side of the fence I can only say that the education I received could have been much better. I guess the teachers I've liked best are those that are genuine and honest and don't try to be something they are not. Max www.8886.co.uk
  15. Maggie: I was using the 8/30 marks from the practical assessments (8 marks of Obtaining Evidence) as the rough proportion of marks for "hands on" practical ability. Although, all 8 marks are not for practical work but for drawing and labelling a correct table of results etc. But some marks can also be awarded in the Planning stage when preliminary investigative work has been carried out. As you say, there are many possible ways that the understanding of practical science could be tested and added to or integrated into the current exams. Giuseppa: I am sure you are doing great work with those young children. I've not taught that age range but I don't think different teaching approaches would make much difference to the ability of students by age 15/16 to cope with the current UK practical assessment. In the UK the investigative science method is started on at Primary age range anyway and they still find it difficult. I recently realised that the principles of scientific investigation apply to just about any subject where you have to research material and then make a judgement on it. It could apply to historical research or just about anything else. Essentially it is about being thorough in your gathering of relevant evidence, analysing it, making conclusions, and evaluating the fairness and worth of everything you have done. I just have to look at the numerous pages of dross I have to search through on the net when looking for information to see that in most walks of life people either are unable or unwilling to apply these principles. Nick: I assume you mean other than the standard ones such as rates, electrolysis, combustion of alcohols etc. One interesting investigation I carried out (just once a long time ago!) was the one about growing crystals. It requires a lot of time and experimenting to get good results but can work well. I'd have to look up the name of the crystals, but I found that if you melted them and put them between two sheets of glass (to constrain them to growing in 2 dimensions) you could get some very nice results. Not a straightforward 5 results repeat 3 times and draw a graph investigation, but probably all the better for that. Max 8886 GCSE Science Coursework : www.8886.co.uk
  16. In my experience this is what most teachers do. In theory this would be good but not all students have a liking for investigative work. Some will get bored after ten minutes while others could keep going for several days if you left them. So in a typical teaching environment investigative science that is student led is difficult. On top of this most of the students don't have enough science knowledge to understand what they find out. By the start of A level (16+) I find that students just about have enough knowledge to carry out investigative work. A few exceptional students seem to get to grips with the principles by Year 8 (13), although they usually do not have enough basic knowledge to explain things. Adrian, for UK GCSE shouldn't this be: As long as the whole educational system places so much emphasis on exam grades, and 20% of those grades can be achieved with bland, recipe book labs, the other 80% with bland recipe book theory, then there is no incentive for the masses to change. I would have thought the theory would be much more "recipe book" than the practical, because the "theory" always works. Max
  17. There is one other thing I was going to add. The current assessment system fails to give any marks for being inventive or original. This is a great shame. So the "coursework" is not really individual coursework so much as individually assessed practical tasks, where each task has a limited set of practical options that will produce "good" results. Max
  18. As I see it the assessment system fails because it causes too much distress to many students. I've never seen a well motivated student complete an investigation in class. They all spend hours at home writing them up. The whole process is repeated again and again until they have enough good marks for their portfolio. This is usually towards the end of the assessment period in year 11. As much as I like the principles of science coursework the current assessment it is just not effective in terms of student or teacher time. If you look at the assessment criteria most of the marks are for "theory" in either planning, analysing or evaluating scientific information. So this could easily be assessed in a traditional written exam. In terms of student and teacher time this would be much more effective. Personally I would prefer a "practical" assessment to be made and assessed internally by individual schools, with moderation of the work as at present. So in effect a single practical exam. At the moment most students work in groups so the coursework is often not a very good indicator of an individual's practical ability. Investigative work is currently 20% of the GCSE. So a single in-house practical exam would be worth about 8/30ths of this. A single theory paper on practical theory would be the other 22/30ths. Max
  19. I don't particularly have time to give much of a coherent answer to the "Towards a Unified e-Learning Strategy" consultation document but seeing as John has been twisting my arm here are a few point... I've spent several hours reading the documents but don't think it worthwhile spending even more time filling in the questionnaire. [As an aside, the PDF document was very difficult to read on a computer. The layout was essentially to be read as a printed document. It didn't even have a hyperlink index. So maybe they should put some effort into making the documents available in a more e-friendly format.] The topic of Intellectual Property Rights is an interesting one. I don't know as much about this as I would like. Does any one know any suitable web references relating to the copyright issues of (educational) web sites? Relating to the production of e-resources I agree with the ideas about producing resources, in that as far as possible teachers should able to modify or change them to suit their needs and requirements etc. (I was going to quote from the document but gave up when I couldn't select and copy a single column in the PDF file and am too lazy to type it all out.) Lets suppose I created a GCSE science resource for the assessment of Science Coursework. It might have these features; * Uses web technology, browser based. * Interactive "video game" style. * Teacher configurable to allow for different abilities. * Teacher configurable parameters to prevent students cheating by getting results from students at other schools. As I see it the only way I would be able to make money from it would be to sell individual licences to schools. So I don't have much motivation to invest the time or money required in producing such a resource as a private venture. Especially when the syllabus is prone to change and there is no guarantee that science coursework won't be removed from the syllabus, as current newspaper articles seem to suggest. Possibly a larger company or a (government) funded organisation might be able to produce such a resource. Max
  20. Hi John, I know the Avatar works, I've uploaded one already. I was refering to the control to upload a personal photo, which is in addition to the Avatar. In the Personal profile section it says "Change Personal Photo" below "Edit Avatar Settings". I assume you can have a personal photo in your personal details section, as well as an Avatar to go with your posts. I don't mind it not being enabled, however it would prevent people wasting time trying to use the feature if the menu option didn't exist when the feature is disabled. It gives the message; "Sorry, the board administrator has not enabled your permissions for this part of the control panel." When you click on "Change Personal Photo". Max
  21. www.8886.co.uk This is a site aimed mainly at the brighter GCSE students. It is a reference site for Science practical/coursework. It contains a detailed guide to planning experiments, obtaining results, graph drawing, concluding and evaluating. It also includes a brief guide to using graph drawing packages for generating graphs with lines of best fit. An on-line calculator allows students to enter their marks and then automatically calculate a best mark total and estimated grade. This has been updated to include the new grade boundaries from the 2003 exams. New developments include a reference section that so far includes information about SI units and resistance. My aim is to provide information that is not readily available elsewhere, and to link to sites that provide a good level of information on relevant topics. Max d'Ayala
  22. 8886 GCSE Science Coursework I've been working on this site over the past few years. It grows very slowly; when and if I have the motivation to add something new. I never seem to get round to writing all the interesting bits I've scribbled on bits of scrap paper as all the boring stuff gets in the way. Recently I've updated the site to take account of the last Examiners Report (grade boundaries and stuff) and started a very tedious and dull reference section on Resistance. Ideally I'd like to write it well enough so that any kid who's teacher is daft enough to set the Resistance of a Wire coursework could use the info to get top marks. Still working out the best way to explain electron drift to a Grade G student. I'm hoping that the Government will abandon Science Coursework soon so that I have a good excuse not to finish it. I'm a freelance programmer/web designer amongst other things, so if you've got stacks of money to fritter away on an interesting project let me know.
  23. In the set up there is a choice of adding a Personal Photo and an Avatar. For some reason the Personal Photo feature appears to be disabled. This may be what Chad was refering to in the other thread. Max
  24. Haven't read the article, but here are my views. True. 1. Students don't understand the science behind the investigation, so they can't possibly carry out a "proper scientific exploration." At best they will understand the basics of the investigation once they have finished it. 2. After 5 years at High School (and before that at Primary level) of being taught how to do investigations many students still find the basic principles incomprehensible. If this was all the practical work they did it would be true. But the Investigations are just the assessment side of practical work. Practical work is (or should be) carried out in the majority of lessons. The practical assessment should be scrapped, but not for the reasons quoted above. Max
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