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The village election

Issue: October 2017 366

Author: Jorj Kowszun

Extract: A vote with two candidates is simple – the majority is clear. When there are more candidates, the vote is still clear if one receives more votes than all the others put together. Problems can occur if no candidate has that overall majority. Here are illustrated several voting methods that attempt to achieve fairness in a single election without the need to eliminate the candidate with the least support and hold another ballot. No method seems to be perfect.

Strange but true: the physics of glass, gels and jellies is all related through rheology

Issue: October 2017 366

Author: Dipak K. Sarker

Extract: Rheology is an enormously far-reaching branch of physics (or physical chemistry) and has a number of different guises. Rheological descriptions define fluids, semi-solids and conventional solids, and the application of this science defines the performance and utility of materials and substances as diverse as foods (such as yogurt and marmalade), body tissues (such as blood, skin and bone) and civil and mechanical engineering materials (such as glass, iron girders and copper wire). Two of the most commonly used terms are viscosity and elasticity, and in some sense these are exact opposites, in which energy put in is either dissipated or stored, respectively. Other useful rheological terms include brittleness, stiffness and stickiness. The experiments considered, described and explained in this article represent accessible manifestations of this rather complex branch of science.

Teaching particle physics in secondary schools: why do physicists want to smash matter to bits?

Issue: October 2017 366

Author: Clive Young

Extract: Matter can be described and explained in a number of ways, using models of increasing complexity depending on the intended audience. Under the current National Curriculum for England, the kinetic theory of matter is taught to 11- and 12-year-olds in secondary schools to explain the structure of solids, liquids and gases and their behaviour when heated. At GCSE, the Rutherford model of the atom is used to explain radioactivity and nuclear fission. The model of the atom needs a further degree of refinement in the teaching of A-level physics. Electrons orbit the nucleus but can also jump orbits when sufficient energy is applied to the atom. The electrons fall back to their ground states and emit light photons of a characteristic frequency. This model put forward by Bohr explains the atomic line spectra of gases. A-level physics also teaches Einstein’s photoelectric equation and the De Broglie relation for wave/particle duality. More recently, topics dealing with particle physics have been included by the three major exam boards in England. The search for the building blocks of matter (elementary particles) has produced the quark model of particles that have a fraction of the charge on the electron. The six quarks together with six leptons now make up the Standard Model of particle physics. A-level physics includes the recent development and formulation of the Standard Model. The depth of coverage of this topic varies widely according to the choice of exam board. This article compares three exam boards’ coverage of particle physics and gives a brief chronological history of the development of the Standard Model.

Scientific U-turns: eight occasions when science changed its mind

Issue: October 2017 366

Author: Michael Hal Sosabowski and Paul R. Gard

Extract: The Scientific Method is the series of processes by which hypotheses, ideas and theories are shown to be true beyond a reasonable scientific doubt. Most science ‘fact’ is expressed in terms of probabilities rather than certainties. Thus, by means of statistical calculations, researchers aim to determine whether an observed association between two events or characteristics may have occurred by chance (coincidence), whether they frequently occur together (correlation) or whether they occur together because one causes the other (causative relationship). In this article we review the Scientific Method and consider the statistical tests that are applied. We then focus on the occasions when science changes its mind and review eight such occurrences.

Reviews

Issue: October 2017 366

Extract: - Maths for A Level Biology: A Course Companion (updated edn). Marianne Izen - Maths for A Level Chemistry: A Course Companion (updated edn). Stephen Doyle - Maths for A Level Physics: A Course Companion (updated edn). Gareth Kelly and Nigel Wood - Enhancing Learning with Effective Practical Science 11–16. Ed. Ian Abrahams and Michael J. Reiss - Problem-Based Learning in the Life Science Classroom, K–12. Tom McConnell, Joyce Parker and Janet Eberhardt - Helping Students Make Sense of the World Using Next Generation Science and Engineering Practices. Christina V. Schwarz, Cynthia Passmore and Brian J. Reiser - Argument-Driven Inquiry in Physical Science: Lab Investigations for Grades 6–8 (student lab manual/teacher book). Jonathon Grooms, Patrick J. Enderle, Todd Hutner, Ashley Murphy and Victor Sampson - Inquiring Scientists, Inquiring Readers in Middle School: Using Nonfiction to Promote Science Literacy. Terry Shiverdecker and Jessica Fries-Gaither - Arguing from Evidence in Middle School Science. Jonathan Osborne, Brian M. Donovan, J. Bryan Henderson, Anna C. MacPherson and Andrew Wild - The (Really) Lazy Teacher’s Handbook (new edn). Jim Smith - Reframing Science Teaching and Learning. Ed. David Stroupe - Chemistry in the Marketplace (6th edn). Ben Selinger and Russell Barrow - Ponds and Small Lakes: Microorganisms and Freshwater Ecology (Naturalists’ Handbooks 32). Brian Moss - Why Icebergs Float: Exploring Science in Everyday Life. Andrew Morris - A Tale of Seven Scientists and a New Philosophy of Science. Eric Scerri

Science websearch

Issue: October 2017 366

Extract: - The Molecule of the Month - Molecular Expressions: Science Optics and You - Nobelprize.org - MetLink - Space Math @ NASA = Free IET teaching resources - ABPI - Whynotchemeng - Young Scientists journal - Biomedical Picture of the Day - Backstage Science - BBSRC - Solarcentury - OpenLearn

SSR special issues and advertisers index

Issue: October 2017 366

Contents and Editorial

Issue: June 2017 365

‘Qualification reform; a two-way conversation’: follow-up to a presentation by Ofqual staff at the ASE Annual Conference 2017

Issue: June 2017 365

Author: Sarah Old

Extract: Changes to A-level and GCSE examinations, reviewed in a presentation at the ASE Annual Conference in January 2017, are summarised and links to ongoing discussion provided

Some thoughts about words and numbers in science

Issue: June 2017 365

Author: Ed Walsh

Extract: Emphasising the importance of literacy and numeracy in the learning of science and in examinations.

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