## Archive for April 2010

April 29, 2010

Today in class, we smelt smoke a few times. This is your initiation into the “magic smoke” club. Regardless of whatever else you have been taught in science, there is a secret piece of knowledge that will never be taught to you by other science teachers…

Magic smoke is the secret ingredient that makes all pieces of electronic equipment work. The proof is that when you short out (break or burn out) an electrical component, smoke is released and the device stops working. Obviously, therefore all electrical components have smoke inside them, and when it gets out, it won’t work until you get it back in!

You now know the circuit secret! Next time you smell the smoke – try and catch it all and see if you can put it back in – maybe that’ll fix it!

So, your own prac will often let the magic smoke out – don’t worry, you now know how to fix it!

Data is below:

### Completing the ^2

April 27, 2010

There is no question that quadratic equations are one of the most difficult elements of Year 10 mathematics. Quadratic equations have many aspects of advanced algebra, and can seem to be completely useless mathematical constructions with no applications to the real world.

The truth is that, to an extent – this is true! Quadratics do have real world applications, but they are difficult to understand at first. Just like when you start riding a bike, you shouldn’t expect to be able to do a superman jump like one of the crusty demons of dirt!

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### Practice make Perfect Pracs!

April 18, 2010

Experiments or Practical Activities (called pracs for short) are a critical part of school science, not (just) because they are fun, but because they form the basis of science in the world. Theories are one thing (and an important part of science) but they are dependent on experiments – without the proof that real world experiments provide, theories would be nothing more than opinions – and have no more validity for understanding the world than any number of other belief systems.

The scientific method developed in ancient Greece, but has continued through a great deal ofÂ  “western” science. The basic idea behind the scientific method is that nothing is ever proven conclusively and forever. This means something different than most people interpret it to mean – not that nothing can ever be known (after all ideas like evolution are almost universally accepted amongst the scientific community), but that any theory is always subject to challenge if new information or evidence is uncovered – there is no precedence of authority or ranking. Anyone can look into a theory, and if they find evidence that would seem to challenge the prediction of a theory, present that evidence to the world and the scientific community for evaluation – and if others confirm the evidence, the theory that it challenges may be reconsidered. If the required change is significant enough, it is called a paradigm shift. The most classic example of a paradigm shift is Einstein’s update of Newtonian dynamics to take speeds approaching lightÂ  into consideration.

April 18, 2010

It is important to know your (not only mathematical) limits – when you know what you can do and what you can’t do (yet), you know where you need to focus your efforts to improve your skills. This applies to everything in life, not just mathematics.

Have you spent time analysing your own skills in mathematics? Have you looked at the list of skills that you are expect to have (and be able to demonstrate in a test) as you complete each section of study? If you haven’t you can (and should!) read the study design document at this link.

### X Factor HPSC!

April 11, 2010

Australian Idol, Australia’s got Talent – you might never get a chance to get on one of these, but you get a chance to be involved in some x factoring!

OK, bad jokes aside what use is this topic? It seems like it is completely useless – when will you ever have remove a common factor from an expression? Well, it depends on what you are doing for a job, but the basic idea of making equations simpler sounds like a good idea to me!