A Year In Review

So what of 2015? What made it stand out? What were the good bits, the bad bits and the bits in between that are not worthy of particular note? Conferences – a quiet year actually, attended #VICEPHEC15 in Nottingham in August (Chemophobia presentation), and managed to double book myself for Keele’s Teaching Innovation Day (poster:…

Magic Week and Crystal Faeries

REPOST: This was first posted in December 2012 but seems appropriate to revisit now!   There is something special about the lab over the Christmas holidays. There are myths about experiments miraculously starting to work after many months of trying, things falling into place or suddenly making sense. Last Christmas I had the misfortune of…

Dear Santa Science

Dear Santa I know you’re pretty busy around this time of year but there’s a lot of things that we science-y academic types would love to get for Christmas. For many of us it has reached the stage where it is easier to believe in Santa than well-funded basic research. And PhD studentships on a…

But it wasn’t fair.

My life, as a marker of student work, would be infinitely easier if we had a set of standards for the production of work that all students followed. Such a ‘house style’ is used by colleagues in other subjects and covers formatting, word count requirements (penalties for exceeding the limit etc), reference style (specifies the…

Lectures at Conferences – again!

A while ago, there was a discussion on Twitter about the role of lectures at academic conferences and whether more sessions should be discussions or interactive. There was some discussion around the notion of providing active learning opportunities at conferences. Michael Seery has waded in  (http://michaelseery.com/home/index.php/2015/11/why-i-love-the-lecture-at-academic-conferences/) as has Anna Wood (http://learningfrome-learning.blogspot.com/2015/11/lectures-at-conferences-good-or-bad.html). Sometimes the 140 character…

What is the ‘Smell of Science’?

Two students have just walked into the building, probably not chemistry, physics, astrophysics or forensic science students. They were discussing the smell of the building and claimed it ‘smells like science’. I’m guessing I’m pretty much immune to the building’s normal odour, far more likely to pick up strongly scented deviations (yes I do want…

Choice is Multiple, Context is Everything

I feel like writing multiple choice questions has characterized this semester so far. It’s unusual in that I normally feel that battling with my exam questions characterizes the early week of the semester (perhaps this year I’ll learn to write next year’s as I teach the material this year but that’s another issue entirely). But…

HEA Chat #HEAChat

Last night I made it home in time to take part in the HEA Chat on twitter.  I’ve been a lurker for some time in LTHEChat (http://lthechat.com/ Wednesday 8 – 9pm) but find it quite overwhelming. Which is a strange thing to say for someone who regularly tweets from conferences with active twitter streams and…

Science Friction

REPOST: This was first posted in February 2009. This semester ends with a ‘Chemistry of Science Fiction’ lecture-workshop so it seems appropriate. Perhaps science fiction is to blame for science’s image. Yes, I know you’re rolling your eyes thinking ‘but I loved science fiction and now look at me, the scientist’. Did you ever consider…

This time of year…

REPOST: This is from last summer (July 2014). This summer was pretty much the same except for not having summer students.  It is the time of year when I get asked what I’m doing at this time of year. Perhaps for students more used to seeing academics within the strictures of the semester timetable, it’s…