Wednesday, 22 October 2008

Putting the bang back into Chemistry

For many of a certain age, Chemistry at school conjures up images of flaring magnesium whizzing around a bowl of water, tests for hydrogen resulting in satisfying explosions and exciting reactions which result in a change of colour or, even better, an exothermic reaction!

But living in the decade of Health & Safety as we are, all that might be about to come to an end, as Mike Kent writes in the TES.

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

Platonic Solids rock!

If you've not been following Marcus du Sautoy's The Story of Maths (on BBC 4), you've missed a treat. No, seriously!

Marcus du Sautoy's approach and delivery remind me of a rather less manic Adam Hart-Davis (who is himself a national treasure) and help to make the history of Mathematics not only interesting but informative as well.

And you can still watch the first episode here, and in the process find out more about Pythagoras' Theorem, Euclidean geometry and the Platonic solids. Or, alternatively, you could watch this clip here.

Of course, all of the mathematical advances mentioned above also get a mention in Match Wits with the Kids, along with a clear explanation. You can pick up your copy of the book here.

Monday, 13 October 2008

The Story of Maths

Have you ever wondered how a subject that is vital to our every day lives - even our very existence - ever came about? Without it there would be no physics, no chemistry, no statistics, no geometry, no cosmology, no commerce, no accurate means of time-keeping, no aviation... Need I go on?

Mathematics is the Empress of the Sciences. In an age of uncertainty, mathematics is the only discipline that generates knowledge that’s immutably, incontestably, and eternally true. But how did this most important of all intellectual disciplines develop through the ages?

Well, wonder no more. Marcus du Sautoy, Professor of Mathematics at the University of Oxford, is here to help and he has all the answers. Simply tune into BBC 4's new series The Story of Maths and you will be both amazed, intrigued and educated. What more could you want?

Saturday, 4 October 2008

How should British history be taught?

The shadow Schools Secretary Michael Gove has set the cat amongst the pigeons by attacking how history is taught. He believes that lessons should make pupils proud of our past, but the question is, is he right?

Well, in a multicultural society such as ours, this could be something of a challenge. There's plenty within the history of the British people that is horribly embarrassing or even downright shameful. However, equally, there have been some incredible moments and many glorious achievements.

This question has provoked the Independent newspaper to poll a number of well-known historians about what they consider to be the ten most important dates in British history. To see what the likes of Tristram Hunt, Dan Snow and Tracy Borman have to say on this matter, click here.

But what do you consider to be the 10 most important dates that children should know? Why not post your answer here, by replying to this post. And if you need reminding what sort of events could make your list, why not read the chapter on History in Match Wits with the Kids?

Friday, 3 October 2008

If you don’t use it, you lose it!

Susan Whelan, a world literatures feature writer based in Canada (as far as I can tell), has written a very comprehensive - not to say glowing - review about Match Wits with the Kids over at

Her review is from the point of view of an overseas reader and points at that in the current edition there is, naturally, a bias towards British History and Geography. However, she also points out that Match Wits gives readers an excellent General Knowledge overview. As she says, 'In the years between attending school and parenting a school-aged child many facts and details well-known during school years go astray' and that 'many adults have discovered the truth of the adage “If you don’t use it, you lose it”, struggling to recall information that was well known at the age of ten.'

If you would like to read more of Susan's review, particularly if you yourself at not based in the UK but have considered getting hold of a copy of Match Wits with the Kids, then click here.

Thursday, 2 October 2008

What is Myrrh Anyway? Released today!

Yes, it's like all your Christmases have come at once - What is Myrrh Anyway? is finally released today!

It should be in all good bookshops now or, failing that, you can buy it online.

And in case you're new to this blog and wondering where the title of the book comes from, click the video link below.