Thursday, October 15, 2009

Damn Statistics!

The dreaded Tramuntana is back.

Photo from Kaz's window - Tramuntana cloud

So I spent Tuesday afternoon netloafing (terminology via Rog).
This caught my eye:
'Chemistry is the easiest subject at GCSE (with Physics a close second) and Media Studies is the most difficult. The pass rate data proves it.'

Surely this is bollocks - but WHY?
Most school students don't do Chemistry GCSE - they do GCSE Science (a mixture). Students who take Chemistry as a separate subject usually go to independent schools and are cherry picked. Hence the fabulous success rate.

This means most students from comprehensive schools have a lot of catching up to do when they start A level Chemistry at college.

GCSE Chemistry is rubbish now. It's all mole calculations, bonding, melting points, blast furnace, rocks, crude oil, solubility, recycling - all writing and learning.

Students are lucky if they see a test tube (with pretty colours, fizzing and smelly gases) once a term.

Health and Safety and lack of funding are to blame for this.

They'd get more fun in the kitchen.

This is what it should be like :




Blogger Dave said...

I passed 11 o-levels. And one subject I failed. Guess which?

9:06 am  
Blogger zIggI said...

I did A level Chemistry (vicariously) just this year, it was easy peasy I never understood a word.

9:17 am  
Blogger Rog said...

What a fabulous picture! Put some more up Kaz.

Practical Chemistry would be fantastically useful today when most people don't know Salmonella from Salmon - it ought to be a bit like the Rough Science programme where young chaps wwere taken on a voyage of chemical discovery with Kate Humble.

PS Dave failed RE

9:28 am  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Well, doesn't a bag of quicklime chucked into a tub of water do much the same? Cheaper, too!
But, yes, I do see your point. We've legislated for the idiot factor, to the point where we're all more afraid of litigation than chemical sparks.

9:39 am  
Blogger Dave said...

I'd go on a voyage of chemical discovery with Kate Humble.

9:41 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

Media Studies?

Well at leat you understand 'vicariously' - (clicks on Chambers).

Glad you like it.
They would have more fun on a voyage of Chemical discovery with KAZ - though it would be fun of a different kind.
(You know what I think of that Kate Humble.)

Quicklime + Water = very exothermic.
But no sparks.
Yes we had to fill out a risk assessment form for every single substance.

You'd be bored - better stick with Bill Oddie.

10:02 am  
Blogger Betty said...

I was always intimidated by Chemistry when I was at school (too stupid to understand any of it), but still impressed by the dingey, ancient school lab and rusty old bunsen burners. I was very disappointed when it made way for a modern, light, airy lab a few years later.

10:19 am  
Blogger Dave said...

Media Studies? How young do you think I am?

No, am ashamed to admit it was chemistry. The only thing I've ever failed at, in the whole of my life.

10:35 am  
Blogger I, Like The View said...

I passed the O and A levels. . .

. . .and it was all fascinating experiments in the lab. . .

(and those out of the lab, in the playground, when someone I knew stole some potassium* and dropped it into the drain as a joke)(BANG BANG!)

about the only thing I remember now is the chant taught in year two of secondary school:



He H
Li Be B C N O F Ne
Na Mg Al Si P S Cl Ar

(*if that's one of the ones stored in oil, Miss?)

I don't think my children have half as much fun in the classroom as I did in my lessons in the lab

yah-boo-sucks to supposed H&S when it interferes with the learning process

10:56 am  
Blogger Scarlet-Blue said...

I used to love it when the science teacher was on a mission to blow us all up. A regular occurance.
Yep, I failed... well CSE grade 6.

11:22 am  
Blogger Scarlet-Blue said...

...that's even worse than failing an 'O'Level...

11:23 am  
Blogger geraldgee said...

So Dave didnt fail with Kate Humble?

12:02 pm  
Blogger Clippy Mat said...

i don't even remember chemistry being on any curriculum when i went to school! but once i think i saw a bunsen burner behind a dark door with a green skylight at the end of a long corridor.
unless that was the staff room.

12:21 pm  
Blogger Geoff said...

My friend did biochemistry at university.

He's just been made redundant after 20 odd years.

I was better at the sciences than woodwork and metalwork. But not much. My first chemistry teacher was the most boring man ever. My second one liked boys a little too much.

1:08 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

Sorry to hear you're having problems with wind.

Thought I'd better say it, as eevryone else has ignored your opening statement.

1:29 pm  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

What an interesting and impressing picture - there must be a hell of a light. Sandparticles?
Chemistry? I kicked it out when in the upper classes it was possible. The only subject I received a "5" in my annual certification, I got a plaine "6" in tests. ("6" is worst, "1" is best.)
For my defense I may say that we had for more then one half of a year no teacher at all and the ass we got afterwards ... it's roughly 30 years past, but I'd still enjoy to kick his teeth in ... so, no, chemistry is nothing I ever enjoyed.

1:31 pm  
Blogger Dave said...

My excuse is that my Chemistry teacher was Polish (Rog will remember him) and he was actually a Physics teacher. Oddly I had him for Physics too, and I passed that.

2:02 pm  
Blogger Gerald (Hyde DP) said...

We had rows of bunsen burners and metal tripods that got hot and asbestos stands - I think we even had gloves that contained asbestos.
I still have a scar on my thumb from when I broke a test-tube into it.
That was the early 60s and the science teacher taught us how to make stink-bombs.

2:21 pm  
Blogger xl said...

The only way I passed Chemistry was because of the lab scores.

Conjuring electrons in formulas was too much like algebra and I did really, really, really badly in that.

2:55 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

All real research is and was done in those Madame Curie style labs.
I'll thump anyone who calls you stupid!
Even you.

Younger than me and older than Scarlet.
I hated it at O level - but loved it at A level.

My students used helibebknof as an innocent swear word.
Very few can manage the second line.

That's the best sort of science teacher.
I had a few scary moments of my own - I ended up in out patients after one demo.

Luckily I can't remember much about CSE grading.
Perhaps a 6 was good.

What is it with you blokes and Kate Humble?
The woman has no sense of humour - so Dave wouldn't get far.

3:35 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

Probably - I bet the staff used it to light their woodbines.

Woodwork and metalwork always seemed to be a major problem for exceptionally gifted students.

(Ignores double entendre)
It's great for drying the washing - as long as you have lots of very efficient pegs.

All the asbestos is long gone now.
As are the stink bombs (H2S is poisonous) and all the other fun.

Good - that's the real thing after all.
You really have an algebra phobia haven't you.
I can't remember any x or y involved.

3:37 pm  
Blogger MJ said...

That Rubidium and Cesium experiment looks like what happens to BEAST after a dodgy curry.

4:38 pm  
Blogger Steve said...

Chemistry and Biology were certainly the softer science options when I was at school sitting my O levels - Physics was totally beyond me. But I have to say Chemistry and Biology were not walkovers. I'm lucky we had plenty of testtube action plus an incident with a teacher setting fire to her desk which was great fun and very edifying.

5:01 pm  
Blogger tony said...

I dont remember much about Science..We had very tall wooden Stools,that took ages to clamber up onto......& I got Dizzy (no head for heights) & our Welsh Science teacher had a bit of a temper & kept knocking pupils off their perches..........It kinda put me off the whole gig!

5:03 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

I blame Ma Beastie.
It's those chick peas.

Students always remember the experiments that go wrong.
I bet all her other experiments were perfect.

There were always loads of Welsh teachers in English schools. I think it's 'cos you had to be able to speak Welsh to teach in Wales.
I guess it made them bitter and sadistic.

8:23 pm  
Blogger I, Like The View said...

I was looking for my Friday treats, and guess what I found?

a periodic table of cupcakes

8:43 pm  
Blogger Donn w/2nz said...

It's important to know the basics so that when WW3 rears it's ugly head, we'll know how to blow the sh*t out of stuff using everyday items found in the kitchen.

As you know I am truly fascinated by the elements and the microscopic particles that underpin our bodies and planet. It's easy to take everything at face value but there is so much going on beneath the the 20 pounds of bacteria that we lug around..we can't live without the chemical reactions that they produce.

If I was sober I'd go on and on and on but I'm having a few and
*CRASH rattle rattle

5:09 am  
Blogger Roses said...

Everything I know about chemistry was from Tom Lehrer.

8:07 am  
Blogger BEAST said...

Pa Beasty was a chemist and used to hide a rubber glove containing a bit of dry ice in my chest of drawers .when an unsuspecting young Beast opened a drawer the rubber glove used to leap out with the expanding c02 , inflate to an enormous size and then explode..particularly 'hilarious' if the glove was filled with talcum can imagine it got old very quickly and left me with a lifelong fear of drawers AND rubber gloves

1:58 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

That's great - Thanks.
I have a periodic table of the vegetables in my study.
Perfect present for a vegetarian chemist.

Cheers - Bottoms up and all that.
You would have made a fabulous (though totally unsafe) chemistry student.

Yes - a song I never get tired of.

I sympathise.
Chemists can be notorious pranksters.
But you should always keep well away from drawers unless invited to enter.

4:23 pm  
Blogger Kerrie said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

5:47 pm  
Blogger Kerrie said...

OOO, Bunsen burners, I do remember they don't mix well with Seventies polyester jumpers.

5:47 pm  
Blogger Kevin Musgrove said...

We did the sodium fusion test. Great fun. We asked if we could do it again but Piggy Wright thought he could only get away with one morning's worth of seismic explosions a year.

And thanks to Beast's dad. I'd never thought of doing that.

6:41 pm  
Blogger Indigo said...

I hated chemistry but love biology, disecting rabbits was a must for any wanna be mortician. Your ec work in prisonS? WHAT'S HIS NAME, I work in a prison, I might've met him?

10:05 pm  
Blogger dinahmow said...

It's me again! Yesterday, the Court sentenced 5 chaps to a longish prison term for plotting a Jihad. Among the assortment of goodies they had "rather a lot of" a domestic chlorine-based cleaner.
And Tom Lehrer is my god! Introduced to his wit by my 3rd form maths teacher.
Off now to poison a pigeon...

PS If you'd like a nice photo of my avatar, let me know.

4:54 am  
Blogger Pete said...

ah the joys of the bunsen burner and sticking potassium and lithium in water!!

5:03 am  
Blogger Roses said...

I think teaching or learning modern chemistry must be really boring.

The students aren't allowed to blow things up or make stinky things.

H & S the greatest killjoy of all time.

9:24 am  
Blogger KAZ said...

And the effect on seventies hair sprayed hair was spectacular!

Piggy wanted to keep you keen and hungry for thrills.

Biology was not for me - too much intricate detail to learn

There's lots of recipes for home made bombs on the web.
Thanks - I'll be in touch.

That's what turns people on to Chemistry.
Not the reading and writing.

Somewhere along the line H&S (which is an excellent idea of course) got into the hands of the wrong people.
Paperwork and fear of litigation just made everyone give up.

10:18 am  
Blogger Madame DeFarge said...

I never really got the point of chemistry. Or physics either. I always enjoyed seeing things go fizz and bang, but never understood molarity. That may have been because our science wing burnt down in my final year, thus removing many educational chemicals from our teachers.

6:11 pm  
Blogger KAZ said...

The point of Chemistry?
Well it earned me a decent living.
Molarity is a mystery to most people - until one day the penny drops.

5:52 pm  

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