OK, it’s “put me out of my misery” time. Here’s the solution to Pixie Puzzle Number 8. As usual, no fully complete and correct entries received but honourable mention to three people who came very close indeed: Aidan Boyle, John Lovell and Audrey Finlayson.
Well done to all who tried: ’tis better to have thunk and blanked than never to have thunk at all (apologies to Tennyson).
Alex receives his award from Dr Frances Saunders, President of IOP
Last Friday 15th November, Alex Munro picked up an Institute of Physics (IOP) Teacher Award, at a ceremony at The Lancaster Hotel in London. Alex, of Lossiemouth High School, has been recognised for his passionate enthusiasm for and thoughtful approach to teaching.
His award citation reads, “He is held in the greatest respect by pupils past and present, who are impressed by his dedication and love for teaching, as well as his innovative and engaging lessons.”
Bob Drysdale, Depute at Lossiemouth, said, “Throughout the 32 years that I have known him, he has had a reputation for the care and enthusiasm with which he prepares his lessons, and for the respect and consideration which he has for his students.”
Bob Kibble receives the Bragg Medal from Dr Frances Saunders
He adds that a recent decision of Mr Munro’s to resign a school managerial post has allowed the physics teacher “to spend the final years of his career back in the classroom without the administrative burden, so that he can expend all his energies on what he enjoys most – passing on his passion for physics to as many young learners as he can.”
A former student comments, “He is without doubt one of my favourite teachers. I’m planning to continue pursuing physics at university due to no small inspiration by what I have learned in Mr Munro’s class.” Diane Phelps, Science Technician at the school, adds, “The best way to describe Alex Munro is to tell you that his advanced higher pupils gave him the nickname ‘God’.”
At the same ceremony, attended by representatives of the Scottish Education community, Bob Kibble received the Bragg Medal. Read more about Bob’s award here.
Thinking that it’s gone a bit quiet around here lately, we can only assume that you’ve got some time on your hands to have a go at the latest Pixie Crossword Puzzle.
LEARN SOMETHING AMAZING IN JUST THREE MINUTES!
How do 3D glasses work? Why do men have nipples? Why is wearing red an advantage in sport? These are some of the things you could learn at the Scottish final of FameLab UK.
Come along and witness the region’s finest science communicators as they battle it out to win a place at the FameLab UK National Final.
Competitors have three minutes to present on any scientific, engineering, mathematical or medical topic. They cannot use PowerPoint or other electronic presentations, and can only make use of limited props. All entrants will be judged on the three FameLab criteria of Content, Clarity and Charisma.
The Scotland Regional Final will take place at Summerhall (www.summerhall.co.uk) for one afternoon only! Why not go along and see for yourself? For more information, visit https://famelab2014scotfinal.eventbrite.co.uk/.
Copyright IODP-USIO Arito Sakaguchi & IODP/TAMU, used under CC licence
Ahoy, Mateys! Got the Barnacle Blues? Fancy running away to sea? Here’s a great opportunity picked up from PTNC: a chance to join one of three expeditions aboard the Joides Resolution, a drilling research ship, in the seas south of Japan in the Izu-Bonin-Mariana Arc.
Outreach Call: Teachers at Sea (Application Deadline: 22 November)
Educators: Want to sail on the JR? The application period is now open for Education Officers (High school & Univ. Teachers, science educators…) on board the JOIDES Resolution for three 2014 expeditions!
Izu Bonin Mariana Rear Arc: March 30 – May 30, 2014
Izu Bonin Mariana Arc Origins: May 30 – July 30, 2014
Izu Bonin Mariana Forearc: July 30 – September 29, 2014
Deadline: 22 November, 2013
The Joides Resolution is an oceanic scientific drilling research ship which has opportunities for secondary school science teachers to join one of its cruises to act as onboard education officers. This is a unique opportunity to take part in some world class scientific research and communicate the results with a global audience. From the site:
JOIDES Resolution Education Officers have the opportunity to learn shipboard science alongside the expedition’s science party and translate their learning experiences for students, families and the general public through creation of blogs, videos, social networking sites, live video conferencing from the ship and classroom activities. All expenses for education officers for travel to and from the ports of call, and a stipend, are paid by Deep Earth Academy. Education officers are selected through a competitive application and interview process. Successful applicants will also be flown to a 3-day group training session prior to their expedition.
If you are from an ECORD country (includes UK) and want to apply, you must do so through the ECORD site.
An artist’s impression of Andy Shield, SQA
On Thursday 24th October, about 70 physics teachers enjoyed a very busy and valuable CPD event organised by Tom Balanowski, MBE, the “retired” network co-ordinator for Edinburgh. Tom introduced the meeting with an update which included information on cloud chambers and Paul Nicholls of Merchiston Castle school raised awareness of the lectures running at his school before the main event, which was a presentation and question-and-answer session held by Andy Shield, Qualifications Manager at the SQA.
Andy’s helpful presentation and guidance helped answer a number of concerns and confusions, particularly in respect of assessment at National 4 and 5 and the Revised Higher. Andy’s PowerPoint is available for download in the Physics folder (and below) if you are logged in to this site.
Tanya Johnston of the Royal Observatory Edinburgh told us about the Gaia Mission to chart a three-dimensional map of our galaxy and the opportunities it presents for students. This sounds exciting and I am sure that Tanya will be sending us more information on this and the series of lectures coming up at the ROE soon. Tom allowed a plug for the IoP’s Higgs Boson Competition before the final talk by Philip Bradfield, which offered an interesting approach to diffraction for an able Advanced Higher student to try.
As usual, the event was all the more valuable for the networking opportunity it presented to all who could make it along. It was particularly good to see some of this year’s and last year’s PGDE students at the meeting. Great work, Tom.
The Institute of Physics has launched the first of a series of bi-annual competitions for Scottish primary and secondary school pupils. In recognition of the work of Professor Peter Higgs, the first competition is called the “Higgs Boson Competition” and is open to teams of pupils in Primary 6-7, S1-2 and S3-4.
A special website has been set up for schools wishing to find out more, at http://iopscompetition.org.uk/. Teachers can register their teams, download flyers and certificates for participants and upload entries. Teams in schools have from October 2013 until May 2014 to participate, with the final registration date being 30th May 2014. Entries must be submitted by the closing date of 27th June 2014. Winners will be announced in September 2014. Prizes include crystals from CERN and personally signed certificates from Professor Peter Higgs.
As the world’s only professional body dedicated to the aerospace community, the Royal Aeronautical Society (RAeS) exists to further the advancement of aeronautical art, science and engineering around the world. Established in 1866, the RAeS appointed its first female president, Jenny Body earlier this year. We are delighted and honoured that Jenny agreed to be interviewed by sptr.net.
sptr: You started your undergraduate studies as the only girl in the class. Did this matter to you at the time?
JB: Although it was quite scary at the very beginning, because the other students were very supportive it really didn’t matter and I ended up thoroughly enjoying it, in being a bit different – if anything the negatives came from the staff, some of whom who had the dinosaur views.
BA Concorde (Copyright Eduard Marmet, used under CC-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons)
sptr: What made you consider engineering as a career?
JB: My father was an engineer (in aerospace!) and seemed to work on things that interested me. I had a couple of clerical holiday jobs at his company and whilst the work I did was pretty dull, what I could see going on around me was fantastic (Concorde developments). I did much better at physics and maths at school than some of the humanities and it was natural to choose a ’logical’ subject for university. At the time I was choosing there was quite some publicity about girls going into engineering and that appealed to me as being ‘logical’ but not pure science.
sptr: What did an apprenticeship give you that other opportunities didn’t?
JB: Firstly it gave me exposure to the world of work…so important to start to understand. Also, although I had some maths and physics at school I had very limited experience of metal work, making things, using tools, etc., and the first year of the apprenticeship really highlighted to me the whole principle of not designing something you cannot make! It also helped as I had had a rather privileged time at school – all girls, all pretty bright and middle class. The world of work wasn’t like that – actually it’s much more fun, with people from different backgrounds and capabilities.
sptr: The learned societies must have seemed remote to you in your early career. Did you ever think you would end up sitting in the President’s chair?
JB: Frankly no, during the early stages of my career, the learned societies did not feature on my radar screen. They were not publicised at college nor within the company. Being a chartered engineer was not necessary. I really only became actively engaged during the latter stages of my career when the networking opportunities became particularly important and valuable to my job. As I became more involved it seemed to me that the president’s role was very significant as a senior leader of the industry and way beyond my vision. However, the role is really to be an ambassador for the Society and to represent it and project it wherever possible and I hope that I am doing that well.
sptr: What do you see as important challenges faced by young people today?
JB: Keeping up with accelerating technology is a major challenge. In the early days of aviation, the aircraft designer knew enough of all aspects to design, make and probably fly the aircraft. Nowadays and increasingly in the future, one’s area of expertise and technical knowledge is just one small part of a mosaic of technologies being deployed and integrated to make a new product. Engineering and aviation is global industry and one must expect to work in different countries with different cultures. Maintaining the work-life balance you want is crucial.
sptr: You have spent a long time in engineering, which to some is still a domain of the male. Is that true, and do women have to be better than men in the same job to overcome such prejudice?
JB: Engineering is not the domain of the male, there are more men (at the moment) as a result of history and the social and economic times. As the culture of the country develops so more women are empowered to work particularly in engineering. I don’t think women necessarily have to be better but maybe more determined and may need a ‘support network’. Engineering itself is not always seen by the public as the professional career equal to medicine and law. This may have a greater impact on young women and those around them.
sptr: No career is without setback and I imagine that yours is no different. How do you cope when things seem to be going wrong?
JB: I have been fortunate in having my support network, initially particularly my father and then latterly my husband and son (both engineers as well). I love being part of a team (even if I am the team leader) and being able to work things through with people with the same objective is really good. It is also important to me that work isn’t everything and I have other things to turn to when I need to get away. I think my work/life balance was ok most of the time.
sptr: How does it feel when things go right?
JB: Fantastic, when you see an aircraft that you have worked on first take to the sky there is nothing like it. You feel you have made a real contribution and a real difference even if you were only a small cog in a much larger machine.
sptr: Finally, if you could speak directly to young people in school today, what message would you give them?
JB: Engineering is a great career. It has many facets some deeply technical, about organisation and about people themselves. Seize every opportunity to develop yourself as you can make a difference.
sptr: Thank you.
Jenny Body, OBE, FRAeS
Biography: Jenny Body
Jenny joined Airbus as an undergraduate apprentice where she prepared flight software for ‘fly by wire’ aircraft. Since then, her career has involved her in research and technology management, wing design and development and the preparation and establishment of the Next Generation Composite Wing Programme – the biggest UK Aerospace Research and Technology programme to date. Jenny was awarded the OBE at the end of 2010 for services to engineering. In May 2013 she became the first female President of the Royal Aeronautical Society. In July 2013 she received an Honoray Doctorate of Engineering from University of West of England.
Assessment in the Nationals has been exercising teachers up and down the land recently not least the issue of prior verification, where centres put their own assessments together and ask the SQA to approve them for use. We have obtained some clarification from our contacts at SQA, who have sent us this:
In short, if centres are making minor adaptations to the Unit Assessment Support Packs (UASPs) then there’s no need to put them in for prior verification. If, however, a centre is making up their own either by writing their own questions or cutting and pasting from past papers then they can submit them for prior verification (see guidance and forms on the [SQA site]).
There are dangers with cutting and pasting from the likes of past papers. Firstly, is what is being asked part of the key areas? Are all of the questions at the right level of demand? Remember these are unit assessments so A grade questions (PS+ in old terminology) are not suitable. Having A grade questions in a unit assessment could mean a centre is failing candidates who would actually pass. Are all of the key areas covered appropriately? Guidance in the document recommends no more than five ‘statements’ about a key area, some key areas are smaller so will have fewer questions, etc.
For centres making up their own assessment, it’s very important that they have some form of sampling grid (see UASPs) to check they are assessing all that they should be – it also helps for verification purposes (both internal and external).
An FAQ resource is being developed by colleagues in the CfE Development team and this should provide quick access to a lot of the answers. Also, after the first round of verification we will be publishing a key messages document.
There is official guidance on SQA’s website: http://www.sqa.org.uk/sqa/63004.html. As a matter of site policy, we do not store official assessment instruments here at sptr.net because we cannot guarantee that our users will keep them in the same secure manner that an SQA centre would.
The SQA have taken a lot of stick recently as assessments have developed with the new courses and although some of it is “fair comment”, please remember that people are involved and that they work within constraints, as we all do. You have to work with what you’ve got, trust that people will try their very best to do a good job, roll up your sleeves and get on with it. Many of us are long enough in the teaching tooth to remember that it’s like this every time significant change is made to the curriculum. With experience, engaging in professional dialogue, and keeping a focus on the children, things get better.
Microsoft Publisher is used by a lot of teachers to create resources for the classroom. It’s easy to use and perhaps more importantly, quick and fairly intuitive. Unfortunately, not everybody has (or wants) access to the MS Office suite. Those precious resources are locked inside a proprietary format which is – well, so 20th Century.
Physics teacher John Maclean came across this difficulty recently and posted to the SPUTNIK list:
MS Publisher is commonly used to generate pupil worksheets etc. While I prefer to use Word myself (or the Open Office equivalents) it is not a proper DTP package.
Problems with Publisher include:
a) There is no viewer available to read files;
b) It is not possible to purchase Publisher other than by buying a Professional version of Office (££££);
c) People keep writing stuff in Publisher which I can therefore read only in school.
Anyone know any ways round this? Am I wrong?
True to form, the hive mind responded with its wisdom within a few hours, enabling John to post a summary of the options available to him:
Software4students can do me Office365 for £58 which is a good deal I know, but more than I want to spend.
My school’s version of Office doesn’t support “Save As” .pdf for Publisher files, but maybe once we are on Office365 that will be the case.
LibreOffice does offer to handle .pub files, but the document I tried produced most of the illustrations and a little of the text, but nothing like enough to be usable, sadly.
zamzar.com did however produce a nice .pdf of the whole document. The Winner.
This is the power of a strong community. Thanks to John for permission to cross-post here for all to benefit.