Tuesday, March 27, 2007

Video on mass and inertia - Train vs Car

Once again, Top Gear strikes with another educational video!

Can't view? Click http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=j3QKRl43i4g

Some points to ponder:

  • The train has a bigger mass than the car. And hence the train has a bigger inertia.
  • The train, after colliding with the car, moved it some distance until it finally stopped.
  • If the roles are now reversed, and that the car travels at the same speed as the train and collides into it, will the car be able to move the train as far away as the car was moved? Why? Why not?
  • Is inertia due to weight or mass? Imagine now that both car and train is floating in space. Will colliding a stationary train with a car at 80 miles/hr be the same as colliding a stationary car with a train at 80 miles/hr achieve the same result in outer space?

The video shows that a bigger mass (train) tends to remain at rest or in motion i.e. is more resistant to a change in motion than a smaller mass. This resistance is called inertia.

Bigger the mass, greater the inertia.

Wednesday, March 21, 2007

Road to Triumph - How Shuqun won the National Mobile Robot Competition 2007

This is an overdue post, as the competition happened in Feb 07. Bless school holidays, else teachers will not have the time to complete useless time-consuming tasks like video editing.

Enjoy! If you can't view go to http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NLxGrTuFtE8

I promise Pt 2 will be soon...

And here is Pt 2. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=tw5iRao99sA


Tuesday, March 20, 2007

Even teachers have exams and grades

This has nothing to do with students or curriculum at all but it has everything todo with teaching.

Read on, if you're interested. Especially if you're interested to enter into civil service.




Saturday, March 10, 2007

Education Stress??

Happen to chance upon this blog, which was tomorrowed (http://tomorrow.sg/archives/2007/03/03/blog_entry_by_a_normal_secondary.html). Sparked off some thoughts from boring old me.....

Anyway, to view the blog go to http://nightboy-youthsg.blogspot.com/. The main thing from this blog that gotten the attention of the editors of tomorrow.sg is that the blog is very frank. honest (not something we associate with mass media) and of course, this paragraph on 'stressful education in Singapore'.

I am a secondary student and i am going to take my "O" lvl this year. My wish for this year is to pass my english paper if not i will not able to graduate to poly or JC. i feel that this year is very stressful as most of the teachers had given mi a lot of homework to do and nd to do a lot of ten years series. Being a student in Singapore is very competitive. My parents always like mi to be top in the school but a lot of student in the school are very li hai and smart so we cant get top. My parents also like to compare mi with the RI students and sae that I am dumb or stupid, but different student hav different capability and talent. So I think that my parent should not compare mi wif them.

I am the onli boy in the family so my parents hav high expectation on mi. I hav 3 sister, both of my sister is working while one of my sister are still studying in NTU. My parents lived in the olden days whr they think that boy is more impt then the girl. And they think that the girl will be married to other people whereas the boy will marry a girl back. So they think that I am more impt then my sister so they care mi more then my sister. Because of tis, I become very weak and not daring because my parents protect mi too much. I become a worrywart because of this.

I hope some of my students do read this blog, and care to comment on it here. Some questions I like to ask:

  1. Is education really stressful in Singapore?
  2. Students are feeling stress usually because they fail to meet expectations. Or rather, other people's expectation. What about their own expectations?
  3. Is stress bad?
  4. How to reduce, or remove stress, if it exist in the first place?

Firstly, having survived 16 gruelling years of Singapore education, I don't find it stressful at all. Seriously. And it's not that I have low expectations! While it's true my parents/relatives never place any high expectations on me, I do have high expectations of myself (and my sister, whom may have felt a bit to live up to her brother's name but I digress).

To answer my own questions, you feel stress because you can't meet expectations. Hence it is not stress nor how difficult the subject is, but rather expectations that is the cause. More accurately, the unwillingness to meet that expectation. For example, I will feel very stress if someone was to force me to take part in Singapore Idol! Because I don't have the interest, and even if I have any tiny drool of talent in me, I will feel stressed since this is not what I want to do! I will not work towards it, and practice will become a chore and a 'stressful' business.

But if I AM already in the Singapore Idol competition, I will give my best in the competition. Whether the other competitors are significantly or obviously way better should not affect how much effort and pride I take in the competition.

And so, the grades of the average RI or RGS student shouldn't affect your studies at all; conversely the grades of the worst student in class is not an excuse for you to work less harder just because 'you're not the worst'.

However, if you do feel stress, it means you can forsee the outcome of your current level of academic work to fall short of your expectations. Don't blame the parents/society/school etc! Take pride in your stress, that you expect yourself to do better!

To overcome stress, not only should you work harder, you should work smarter. Realise that stress can be a motivator, and that the feeling is simply how our brain tells us to buck up! Use it to help you focus; do not attempt to get rid of stress but instead work with it. In fact, I maintain a steady level of stress myself so as to keep myself going. If there's no stress, I'll be slacking pretty much!

Tuesday, March 6, 2007

Me and my students have something in common...

Today, by the instruction of my co-form teacher Pearly, I presented my O and A level results to my class. This turned out to be a cacophony of oohs, and ahhs, and sure-or-nots and general outrage of modesty of my certificate folder.

Their reaction was something I didn't expect and frankly, I'm nonplussed. They were awed by my "unbelievable" results but, believe me guys, when you're elbowing for a space in the more competitive courses in local or overseas universities, straight As for us is as common as Physics common test failures in your class.

But my point here is, they fail to detect something (admist the...ahem...myriad of As) that I scored a C6 for GP-General Paper (equivalent of english) for my A-levels.

And yes, in my bunch of students in 4/3 Shuqun, there are some who are doing very well in all other subjects except for the omni-important English. Why is English critical? Because the entry score for polys/JCs always require the grade of the English examination plus 4/5 other subjects. And not only that, a pass in English is compulsory for entry too.

Citing my own example, I've took O-level Biology and subsequently A-Level Biology, because one of my greatest ambition is to be a doctor. I regard doctors as one of the most noble profession (that pays reasonable well...for a geeky guy with blood on his hands). But despite my almost perfect O and A level results, my C6 grade in GP means that I can't even qualify for an interview in NUS Medicine. And thus my dream of being a doctor is shattered.

In my sorrow, I took up engineering. Which landed me in RSAF, and now in teaching.

And it is with utmost irony, that I did badly for GP because when I was taking A-levels, I have no interest whatsoever in English. And only during my universities days did I develop taste for beautifully written english and well-articulate arguments. I credit that to the amazing comic/graphic novel Sandman, and the classic author Oscar Wilde's Picture of Dorian Gray. I even tried Shakespeare but frankly I don't really appreciate it.

Still, it's not too late for you guys. I do hope you realise the importance of getting a good grade in English (and the idiocy of not attaining your dream because of English). I do have the whole collection of Sandman and also Dorian Gray, if you wish borrow.

Another way is to read well written blogs, that still is interesting! Or read whatever catches your fancy. And try to cut down on that internet/SMS lingo crap, lik msg in tis way cos it lewk waaay kool! It's da bomb! C u!

May wanna try these:

Enjoy the 1 week holiday! Cos it's gonna be hell after that! hehe...

Saturday, March 3, 2007

First setback for me?

Just finish marking the Physics common test of my students from Shuqun 4/3. In fact I marked it 3 times, after getting advice from the setter of the paper as well as the HOD.

46 students. 21 Failures.

Maybe some would say one of the worst thing about teaching is getting the class's attention. Others will say it's impossible to get students to adopt the right studying attitude. Or just simply to behave in a way as to show respect to elders/teachers/authority and basically, do as what we tell them to.

For me, it's seeing my efforts gone to waste. As I mark the test I wonder is it that the students just simply do not understand, or did they not bother to study at all? Wrong study method perhaps? No interest in this particular subject? Or rather, that the teacher (me) is ineffective and useless?

First blood goes to my cute students from 4/3 (Normal Acad).

Here are some interesting answers...

A very common mistake - usage of non SI units and wrong units.

Errors of wrong concepts, though look trivial, are actually more sinister and harder to correct. Weight is not mass, weight is not measured in kg but newtons; mass is in kg....

Some get confused, because we use similiar some words in physics...
potential difference = potential energy due gravity?

Some gets creative...

Some are very considerate and for my well-being, decided to cut down on the marking I need to do....


Friday, March 2, 2007

Car hit by lightning

Here's a video clip I extracted from an episode of Top Gear. Watch as man made lightning hits a car... and not a single damage is done to it, or to the man inside!

Can't see the video? Click here to view: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lv006jJjo6w

What can we learn from this?
  • Almost everything can conduct electricity. The lightning pass through air, through the cars, through the rubber tires and onto the ground.
  • It's not 100% right to say only conductors can conduct electricity then; rather, conductors have low resistance while insulators have very high resistance to electricity.
  • To overcome that high resistance of the air, a high voltage is required.
  • The car can be considered a complex circuit of various resistors (body, tires, seats inside, engine etc). However, current will flow through the path of least resistance (think shunting/shortcircuiting of circuit)
  • Same theory is applied to lightning rods on buildings, lightning protection on airplanes, on containers of flammable fluid etc.

Thursday, March 1, 2007

EM Spectrum - Links to web resources

Collection of links on EM Spectrum. To be updated!

http://www.colorado.edu/physics/2000/index.pl - a dialogue type lesson, with Java applets. Also has info on Periodic Table, Radioactivity etc.

http://www.microwaves101.com/encyclopedia/biological.cfm - effects of microwave on heating and bodily harm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Electromagnetic_spectrum - Wiki on EM

http://rabi.phys.virginia.edu/HTW/microwave_ovens.html - how microwave oven works

http://imagers.gsfc.nasa.gov/ems/waves2.html - NASA decides to educate on EM. Good pics.

Electricity - Links to web resources

This is a collection of links to electricity, DC circuit etc. Will be updated as I find more.

http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/static_materials.htm - electric experiments

http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/Bill_Bowden/ - circuit diagram of hobby kits (advance!)

http://www.ngsir.netfirms.com/englishhtm/Circuit.htm - Java applet of simple DC circuit

http://www.umd.umich.edu/casl/natsci/slc/slconline/IDIG/DigiMeter.htm - Shockwave lessons on how to use multimeter: measuring voltage, current, resistance.

http://hyperphysics.phy-astr.gsu.edu/hbase/electric/watcir.html - water analogy to electric current

http://sol.sci.uop.edu/~jfalward/seriesparallelcircuits/seriesparallelcircuits.html - online lesson on series and parallel

http://www.kpsec.freeuk.com/symbol.htm - symbols for circuit diagrams

http://library.thinkquest.org/28032/cgi-bin/psparse.cgi?src=lessons03 - easy to understand and attractive lessons covering electrostatics, magnetism and electricity. Some applets and Shockwave as well.

http://www.ibiblio.org/kuphaldt/electricCircuits/DC/index.html - comprehensive slides on electricity. Good diagrams and photos.

http://micro.magnet.fsu.edu/electromag/electricity/resistance.html - nice Java applets on Ohm's law and why resistance increase with temp.

http://www.phys.unsw.edu.au/PHYS1111/electric/electric%20fields.html - on eletric fields. A levels but has nice simple diagrams.

http://www.andythelwell.com/blobz/ - very nice Shockwave introduction to elementary electricity. On conductors, circuit symbols...

http://www.energyquest.ca.gov/story/index.html - mostly on energy sources but has quite a biton electricity

Electrostatics - Links to web resources

This is a collection of links on electrostatic. Will update this as I find more off the web.

http://www.sciencemadesimple.com/static.html - Quite a comprehensive one. Limited pictures though.

http://www.school-for-champions.com/science/static_materials.htm - on the triboelectric series

First post - the beginning

This is a blog about my travails (usually) and triumphs (hopefully) in my teaching life.

Maybe also a portal for students to post question.

And also a personal journal about my teaching methodology.