Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Life? Don't talk to me about life....

As Marvin, the paranoid Android from Douglas Adams' The Hitch-Hikers Guide to the Galaxy said, 'life, don't talk to me about life'. But one has to rise above it and blunder on regardless.

My Open University study has turned out to be anything but straight forward, as life in all its beauty and ugliness has combined in recent months to try to scupper everything. But while I had to defer study of the 30 credit 'S142 Topics in Science' until next year, at least 'S141 Investigative and Mathematical Skills in Science' is nearing a successful conclusion. Just the final end of module assessment, due in on May 14th, remains. 

This turn of events has at least made my choice of which Level 2 module to try first a whole lot easier. It had turned into a straight choice between Astronomy and the new Earth Science 60 credit module due for its first presentation in October this year. But first presentations seem to experience a few teething troubles which makes me hesitate. But now, with S142 deferred to next February it is only going to be practical to attempt a 30 credit Level 2 module alongside it. So S282 Astronomy it is then from October. Should be a nice challenge I think.

First things first though. I will have lots of feedback to give the good old OU regarding S141. The Maths, the part I feared the most, was great. Loved it in fact, which just goes to prove how important it is to have a good teacher at school. I had the legendary (for all the wrong reasons) Mr Wells and the net result, a grade 'f'. Differentiation was a complete mystery to me back then thanks to that clown's hapless teaching skills but in fact, there's nowt to it! So I have proved to myself that I can do maths. Rather well in fact as a 95% iCMA score confirms. So 'up yours' Mr Wells!

As for 'Understanding the Weather', the main thing I now understand is that weather forecasts cannot be relied upon for 'owt, but at least I now know why that is the case which is something I suppose. This module relied on us students setting aside time to do some basic weather observations.  That's fine but given that many OU students work, that restricts this kind of stuff to weekends. The idea was to choose a nice approaching frontal system and make observations as it passes over. Sod's Law dictates therefore that the weather will be inactive and dull all weekend, giving one beggar all to report on, as did I. Hey-ho, such is the life of the scientist, I guess.

The most annoying part of S141 has been the online collaboration for the Scientific Investigations part, covering the design of experiments. Oh Lord, this has been a challenge of restraint! My fellow students, bless 'em, seem to have the habit of over complicating just about  everything. For example, in the final experiment, to study the effect of an additional substance, say salt, on the growth of cress seedlings. Various students start asking about the difference in hardness of water in different students localities, when as long as we use the same water for our individual test and control experiments it simply doesn't matter. Seems obvious to me, but clearly not others. But I suppose working with others of, dare I suggest, lesser intelligence and working out an agreed methodology, is a necessary skill to acquire. So maybe that is the overall aim.

Anyway, with the EMA nearly done, the goal is a distinction. With a continuous assessment score of 95% already in the bag, I need 85% from the EMA to get that. Considering the way life has panned out since October, it would be a bloody miracle!

See ya next time, 

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