20 February 2011


Science in the Gambia: Day 0 - all packed?

Off to the Gambia tomorrow to teach Physics!  A scary prospect (for whom you may ask). It's been a bit manic the last few weeks but my checklist is almost all ticked off now.

While my job is quite technical, the extent to which I use the physics I learnt at school or uni is pretty limited
There is big difference between intuitively understanding how a phenomenon like diffraction works and explaining it to someone else.  So I've been doing quite a lot of preparation which has been grounded in the excellent material developed by Joe B from Collyers who I'm glad to say will be with us.

We will be working with Gambian teachers rather than pupils largely.  The plan is to focus on experiment and show how this can be used to explain the physical phenomena which are generally only taught off the blackboard in the Gambia.  A common misconception of science is the laws (e.g. Newton's Laws of motion) define how reality behaves.  Of course it is in fact the complete opposite; a "law" is merely a model of reality. When a model fails, as Newton's does at high velocities, then it needs modification - bring on Einstein.  We are hoping that starting from experiment will challenge such an understanding.

Apart from never having taught physics, I've also never done so at temperatures approaching 40C. Should have spent last week in the environmental chamber at work conditioning myself....

So its up and off at 4.45am tomorrow.

Chris :-)

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