Monday, 20 October 2008

S104: The Story so Far!


Sorry it's been a while, but that's what studying does I guess! As predicted, the greatest challenge before me is not so much the level of the work, but simply finding the necessary time to get the studying done. Family life, as anyone with children will testify, sees demands on one's time that are a bit random (to use my daughters favourite word). This makes planning my Open University study rather difficult to say the least. The OU asks you to do a plan of when you will do the necessary studying, but it wasn't long before the plan went completely out of the window. I'll just have to maintain a flexible approach and do what I can, when I can. But what the heck, the kids education comes WAY before my belated attempts but I will get the job done!

So, what's been happening? Well the precipitation measurement exercise went well if a little strangely. We had to design two rain gauges, one open topped and one with a funnel. They had to be constant diameter obviously and flat bottomed, with the funnel the same diameter as the bottle. Easy! Skills learnt through many adolescent years watching 'Blue Peter' came to the fore to produce a masterpiece of engineering.
So a big 'thank you' goes to Valerie Singleton, John Noakes and Peter Purves (whatever happened to them?) I'm particularly proud of the addition of the rim of corrugated card covered in packing tape around the outside of the funnel to keep the funnel top securely in place! Genius huh? Well, we were required to produce two weeks of data and then calculate a daily mean precipitation for each week. Week one produced nothing. Nowt. Zilch. Diddly-squat! A BIG ZERO seven days running! However, week two brought several days of torrential rain, with one day in particular bringing about 35 millimetres of rain. Don't ya just love Britain?

Since then I've finished my first computer marked assignment a week early and got the first tutor marked assignment done in good time too. I made a few classic mistakes on the CMA, like not reading the question properly and worst of all writing a number down wrong so that no matter how perfect my method was, I was never going to get the right darned answer! Doh!?!

So, all in all, it's been a good start. I'm gradually finding the best way for me to study - what works for me and what doesn't, so that's good. I'm determined not to get too stressed about stuff. The main aim is to ENJOY studying science! As my OU course tutor said on our first tutorial a few of weeks ago, "if we don't enjoy it, what's the point?" Absolutely!

Now here's a strange thing! While out visiting a sixth form college (Pendleton College near Salford) one evening last week, who should I meet in the foyer, showing visitors around, but a guy I met at the first course tutorial! It really does seem a very small world sometimes! Only days before we had been working as a team, bouncing ping-pong balls to determine how the rebound height varies with drop height. Fascinating stuff it was too!

Next up is the book I've been looking forward to most: 'Earth and Space'. Included here are earthquakes; volcanoes; plate tectonics and an introduction to GEOLOGY! Way-hey!!! We've been supplied with a small kit of rock and mineral samples together with some fossil plaster casts and a hand lens for examining them. One activity involves placing a small rock sample in vinegar! Now I wonder what that is a test for??? I think I already know the answer! Should be fun!

I'll leave you with a photo of a wonderful piece of BRITISH geology of which I'll speak more of soon!

Cheers for now,


Guess where this is!

Clue: It ain't Arches National Park!!

Photo by 'Drummaboy' @