Not to be shallow or fatuous, but please 'like' what we are doing for physics

3rd August 2012 at 01:00
Teachers of any subject can now key into real-world science in the virtual world

I `ve just run my last course of this academic year, or perhaps it's my first one of the next. Introductory Physics for Technical Support Staff, for those who need to know.

Given that, and the fact that the queries from schools die down during the summer break, this time of the year is a good one to plan ahead and try out new things at SSERC.

This might be an extended investigation into the safety and effectiveness of a new radioactive source, or it could be a period spent developing activities on the physics of music, setting familiar physics in a sound engineering scenario.

While I wouldn't like a curriculum that didn't have radioactive sources in it, neither would I want to go back to one that never set physics in a real-world context. Thank the developers of Standard grade and the writers of the Curriculum for Excellence science experiences and outcomes for bringing us to where we are and keeping us there in that respect. If you disagree with me, step outside.

See that last statement? If you didn't know me, you might think I really was up for a fecht. That's the problem, or perhaps my problem, with writing. I have in my mind a typical reader and I spout forth accordingly. Take Facebook. I post something I think is mildly amusing, but for everyone who likes it, there could be someone else who thinks it's shallow or fatuous. Indeed, I have begun seeing a virtual warning pop up in my head that says: "Are you sure this post is not shallow or fatuous?" Below it are three buttons: post, cancel and more info. If you click more info, another window pops up saying, "Remember you're 52."

Why mention this here? Because one of my holiday tasks has been to set up an SSERC physics Facebook page. It's something we're trying out, and you can find it here: www.facebook.comSSERCphysics. You don't need to be on Facebook to view the page, but if you are, you can "like" us and receive updates on all sorts of physicsy things. Non-physicists might get something out of it, too. There are even nice photographs. They are for English teachers who can understand metaphors about love and red roses, but not ones about electrons and wee marbles.

And, of course, that's the sort of fatuous comment you won't see on SSERC physics. It's one thing risking looking like a buffoon in front of friends. It's quite another matter dragging an organisation's good name down with you. That doesn't mean that our page will be po-faced. I've just uploaded a video that shows how bald men can have fun with Van de Graaff generators.

Gregor Steele, Scottish Schools Education Research Centre, is aiming for 100 "likes" by the end of August.

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