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Knowing, and loving, fictional characters

A little reading around the subject reveals that some of the Biblical stories featuring the Abrahamic God are almost certainly loose adaptations of earlier myths. Noah was not the first character in a story who had to deal with a massive flood, and Jesus was not the first to be born when a woman was impregnated by a god. The figure of the Abrahamic God has evolved from earlier gods, and continues to evolve as new interpretations of the Abrahamic religions or, indeed, entirely new religions, spring up. In one… Read more Knowing, and loving, fictional characters

The Use of Demonstrations in Science Teaching

A couple of weeks ago, I took part in a live recording of the Guardian’s Science Weekly podcast which was also filmed for the Royal Institution’s Ri Channel. My friend and former teacher Dr Michael de Podesta has written a kind of review of the podcast which prompted me to put up this blog post in which I want to share some notes I made on doing science demonstrations as part of my work as a Nuffield Education Fellow last year: Demonstrations, like whole class practicals, are an “activity which… Read more The Use of Demonstrations in Science Teaching

I cannot write

It’s been nearly six months since I finished my book and I haven’t really been able to write since. I’ve sat down many a time at my desk and found the tap that had flowed so gushingly last summer, blocked and barely dripping. I’ve spent the last couple of days surrounded by other writers and I have been inspired by them and their stories. I have felt driven to write, yet I find I cannot. I cannot write of Holly and Michael, kindred spirits I have encountered far from home,… Read more I cannot write

Science vs Magic – a work in progress

It’s a few days since I came back from the Cheltenham Science Festival and I’m still buzzing. My live science show, “Science vs Magic”, went down a storm, and months and months of work seem to have paid off. I received an email from Dr Andrea Sella, a live science show veteran, telling me he thought it was a “fantastic talk – brilliant premise, brilliant execution, very solid story line, excellent comic timing, great examples, and your energy level was up there at the deranged level… loved every minute”. Tom Whyntie, who was one… Read more Science vs Magic – a work in progress

King of the Universe

This is a piece I wrote for The Times Science Blog back in March 2010. The Times no longer allow free access to their website so I’m reproducing it here: I want to be an astronaut. And now that we have a UK Space Agency, I might get to be one: I’m a teacher AND I’m from an ethnic minority community, which should mean that I’m way ahead of most people when the Minister for Outer Space draws up a shortlist for the first crew sent into space by UKSA… Read more King of the Universe

Biting the hands that feed me?

My “friend” Jonathan Sanderson recently described me as a sponger. He conceded that I did something “useful” on the two days a week I work as a school Physics teacher but said that “the rest of the time, you sponge off society”. Jonathan has a point – I mostly rely on some kind of public funding or charity for the rest of the work I do as a “science communicator”. I’m one of the lucky ones. Over the past few years, I’ve been given well over a hundred thousand pounds… Read more Biting the hands that feed me?

How should we teach Science?

I set up a couple of weeks ago to encourage people to take part in the QCA’s (poorly advertised) consultation on new criteria for GCSE Science. Thanks to a post on the Guardian Science Blog and a plug from Ben Goldacre, contributions to the site have been coming in slowly but steadily. A woman at the QCA promised “to look” at the responses I collect at… but I was given the clear impression that she would not be paying any serious attention to anything but responses to the… Read more How should we teach Science?