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Inside Teaching : June 2011
www.atra.edu.au | email@example.com SEE ME AFTERWARDS 55 make a graph when the only parameter we have is one tray of half-baked, half-eaten bread rolls. If the hypothesis was, ‘How long will it take before the whole thing ends in tears?’ we have a finding. Five hours. Look, I’m all in favour of a bit of a collage, even a diorama of the solar system or getting an egg inside a milk bottle as a science homework task, but this stuff is too hard for us. What’s next? A scale model of the Large Hadron Collider? Oh wait! We already did that. Well close, anyway. Let’s relive the saga of the innocently-named ‘balloon popping machine’ from Year 7 science. In that outing I recall we had a choice of energy sources – gravitational, kinetic, elastic, chemical or heat. In the end we ticked off all five just trying to load the damned thing in the car. It was a marvellous confabulation of drawing pins, water spouts, toothpick wheels, bits of bamboo and human spit – all painstakingly constructed by Dad over three days. It worked, as far as is recorded, just the once. And that was under ideal conditions. (Meaning that we all pretended it worked for the sake of the man of the house, but it never did. Let’s be honest. Not really.) I’m starting to wonder if there is some method to the madness in the science homework being sent our way. Everyone knows that scientists are always pushing for more research and development dollars from the Commonwealth government. I reckon the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation is outsourcing its research through my high school kid to our place. Maybe they’re hoping we’ll perfect cold fusion in the bathroom or have a breakthrough on the properties of dark matter by shining a torch under my son’s bed. Actually, this outsourcing would be a good tactic, because these bread rolls could be used in the control of feral animals. A pile of them along the Queensland border just might halt the southern march of cane toads. I’m dreading my daughter starting high school. She’s quite the little artist and I can just imagine when she comes home wanting to make an art installation involving computer generated 3-D holograms, flame throwers and lasers. Please, have mercy! The annual Easter bonnet parade pushed our family’s capabilities to the limit. Although when it comes to cutting out bits of paper and using glue sticks, we’re experts. Wendy Harmer is one of Australia’s best known humorists and authors, and a regular columnist for Inside Teaching. I’M NO SCIENTIST, BUT EVEN I KNOW THAT IT’S ALMOST IMPOSSIBLE TO MAKE A GRAPH WHEN THE ONLY PARAMETER WE HAVE IS ONE TRAY OF HALF-BAKED, HALF-EATEN BREAD ROLLS.