Friday, November 30, 2012

Exam answers

Every year I am alternately infuriated ("why the hell didn't you LISTEN in class and do your work?"), depressed ("I must be such a poor teacher to have kids giving these answers after I know I taught this section properly"), or amused by the answers that pupils give to their exam questions. This year I've decided to share some of the funnier answers I've had.

Before anyone thinks about making a judgement on the kids at this school remember that EVERY school has kids who give answers like these. If they didn't, then every school would have EVERY child getting 70% or more for EACH subject.

When asked about why scientists think the dinosaurs became extinct, the correct answer should be that, currently, the most popular theory is that there was a massive asteroid which impacted the earth, sending up clouds of dust and ash that obscured the light. This, in turn, caused both a decrease in photosynthesis (and hence a decrease in plant growth and plant life), a decrease in the amount of oxygen present in the atmosphere, and an increase in the amount of carbon dioxide present. The fact that the dust obscured the light also resulted in a global cooling and an ice age. Because the dinosaurs are ectothermic (i.e. control their body temperature using the heat from the environment), they were unable to cope with the decreased temperature. This combined with lack of food and lack of oxygen, caused many species to become extinct.

Here are some of the more humorous incorrect answers I got:
  • The dinosaurs were killed by a bomb that went off. [OK then.... sure. Why not? That makes sense, right?]
  • The asteroid blocked out the sun's light before it hit the earth because it was so big [which means it must have been much bigger than the moon], and so when it hit the earth the dinosaurs were too weak to withstand  the blast so they fell over and died. [I guess they're assuming that all the dinosaurs were in the Gulf of Mexico at the same time....]
  • A glacier hadn't burnt up completely and when it hit the earth it whipped out the species. [glaciers? glaciers that whipped? I think I want to live in your world.]
  • As [the archaeologists]  found more remains they started thinking there should have been a  more recent occurrence of extinction because they kept finding more fossils that ages well, but not that far back. [Um.... yeeees. Did you read your answer back to yourself? How did this sound in your head when you were writing it?]
  • It could be possible [i.e. that the dinosaurs went extinct] but there are no proven facts to back the theory up. [Whatever your personal belief about creation and mass extinctions, kiddo, you still have to be able to explain the Alvarez-asteroid theory....]
  • An asteroid decided one day that it did not like the asteroid belt, because it was being made fun of by its friends for being smaller than them, and then it went on a trip to have a closer look at the sun as it was moving it noticed a planet was going to be in its way, it tried to change its course, but the sun's gravity would not let it and it decided that it wanted to commit suicide any way and kill whomever was on that planet. The end. [Notice that that first bit is all one sentence! Phew! Great little bit of creative writing there.] 

Thursday, November 29, 2012

'Show Desktop' icon gone?

One of my all time favourite things is my quick launch tray at the bottom of my screen. I don't understand people who don't use it. I mean, why waste time having to hunt for programmes you use frequently? Yes, you can use the 'Desktop' toolbar, and save shortcuts on your desktop, but I have SO many there already, that to find the one I'm looking for can be a bit like looking for a needle in a haystack. Instead, I keep the top 10 apps I use in my quick launch toolbar/ tray.

Of those, the most frequently used one is the 'Show Desktop' one. Again, I know visually where my different shortcuts are, so it's quicker for me to find something by looking at my desktop, than looking in a LOOOOONG list of apps using the 'Desktop' toolbar.

Needless to say, I was therefore VERY frustrated to find that one of the teachers using my room accidentally deleted it. Yes, if you right click on the bottom toolbar you have an option to 'show desktop', but that's a WHOLE EXTRA click, and it's hard to break the habit of a life-time.

Today I eventually decided enough was enough, and Googled a way to fix it. I found a really easy way to do it. YAY! I love Google and I love it when technology works so simply. So, for those of you in a similar boat, who have accidentally deleted it, or have had someone else do it for you, here's the solution:

·         Click Start -> Run and type regsvr32 /n /i:U shell32.dll and enter

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy birthday to me!

Yesterday was my birthday. Although it comes around every year, it always catches me a bit unawares. I think it's the timing... we're already into silly season and in the light of the amount of work I have to do, my birthday seems less urgent, or something.

I was really touched at the number of people who wished me though, through-out the day. (Facebook definitely has it's benefits!) Between the chocolate & banana pancakes for breakfast, chocolate mousse for pudding, and champagne (ok - Methode Cap Classique!) at cell group, even invigilating & marking exams were a complete breeze.

My not-so-little-anymore girl picked out a necklace and handbag for me (from her and her brother) which are very cute. She has good taste (well, improving at any rate!) which I think she must inherit from me ;D

I still wait with bated breath to see what my hubbie is getting me... he hasn't had much chance to go shopping, although he says he knows what he wants to get me. (I believe him. The year he forgot my birthday he was at least completely honest with me about it - yes, I haven't forgotten! Plus, I've seen how hard he's been working the last little while - UNREAL.)

I'm looking forward to the festivities on the weekend. I've planned something fun ... well, I think it's fun - I think my guests might be a bit intimidated at first. I'm finding as I get older that I get more guts to do the things I really want to for my parties. Thus far, they've worked out (on the whole), so I'm hoping this works out too.... Hmm... however, this one has the potential to flop, so I think we need to get lots of cocktails to help ease everyone's nerves (not least mine!)

What I've loved most about my birthday though, is that it was filled with people I love. People don't usually tell each other how much they mean to each other - we reserve that kind of thing till after someone is dead, then eulogise effusively. Some of my friends are really good at doing that in the here and now - and it's SO affirming. I love having the opportunity to tell them how much I appreciate their friendship in return. It's all very warm and fuzzy, and I love it!

But, speaking of warm and fuzzy, it's time to go and bake some cakes. What sort of cake should I have this year? (I don't see why only kiddies get to have fun cakes!) Hmm...

Sunday, November 18, 2012


We went geocaching again yesterday. Spectacular fail on two sites, but spectacular success on one.

The one we found was at this fountain in Mowbray. The fountain it's about a century old, and the twin of the fountain in Rondebosch.
Nellie was the hero who found it. She was super-excited, so I let her write her name in the cache list.

I think this could become addictive...

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

A very clever bird catches fish using bait

I don't know where this video came from originally, so can't give proper credit. I received it from someone via email. I have tried a variety of formats, but can't get it to upload, and for ethical reasons don't want to upload it to YouTube. (It's already there though - don't know whether the person who uploaded it is the original author or not... 

The video shows a bird standing by the side of a pond with a bit of what looks like fish (but might be bread) in its mouth. It repeatedly drops the fish into the water, and then picks it up again, to lure a larger fish to the edge. Eventually, a large enough fish draws near to eat the tasty morsel on offer, and is quickly grabbed by the bird, who then walks up onto the bank to eat its meal.
In the midst of the recent spate of news about clever animals who 'talk', I think this shows that our current definition of having a culture (and thus, by implication [although I personally dispute this], being more intelligent) as the ability to use tools may be somewhat lacking. 
As a Christian, and a Biology teacher, I'm often asked how I can 'believe in' evolution and still maintain my faith. It's quite simple for me, really. When I look at this kind of evidence (watch the video) what I see is a species that is learning and growing, which is exactly what God intended for all species. Nowhere in the Bible is it implied that the creation was ever intended to remain static. In fact, the apocalyptic writings of The Revelation seem to indicate that the new heaven and earth will be a place where we (all of creation, not just humans!) will continue to learn, grow and develop. But I digress slightly.
This learning and growing is (rather simplistically, I will admit) what scientists term evolution. What people of faith (and not just Christians) term as God's hand in creation is the fact that this species is fulfilling God's purpose for it - to grow and develop and become all that God intended for it to be.
I stand in awe of a great God who makes creatures that are able to learn, grow, develop and adapt to a changing world!
The outcome, for me, of seeing this kind of video is that it reinforces my belief that humans have no greater right than any other species to make use of the resources this planet, and indeed, this universe, offer us. We are just one part of it, not the sum total of it. Because we have a greater ability to reason, we also have a greater responsibility to steward it well.
Of those to whom much is given, much is required.

Friday, November 09, 2012

Lullaby for my boy

Every night I sing lullabies to the kids, and tonight, for some reason, I suddenly wondered about what might happen if I were to die prematurely. Now I'm not saying I'm going to die prematurely, but I like to be prepared, or as prepared as one can be. My little man is so young that if I were to die now, he probably wouldn't remember me in years to come. I also know that one of the things people sometimes say, years on, is that they can't remember what their loved one sounded like, or even looked like. So, since the little man has a particular penchant for 'Summertime', I thought I'd record myself singing it for him - just in case, you know? (I know this plays with VLC media player, which you can download for free, so if you can't get it to play any other way, try that.)