Category Archives: BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64

Facebook – Im Back

Facebook - My Open University LifeWant to follow me on Facebook?

My Facebook page for My Open University Life went AWOL for some strange reason, I have no idea why or what happened to it. So, I have set up another one here My Open University Life on Facebook. So if your on why not like my Page and get updates when ever I make a post on my Blog.

On a different note, there are planty of groups and pages on Facebook for Open University courses. For example if your starting S104: Exploring Science in October the group is here S104 October 2013 Study Group. Im sure if your doing a course soon they will have a group just for your course.

I used the group back when I was doing S104  and for a few of my other courses and found them a great help. They are a good place for bouncing ideas around and to get help if your are stuck on a TMA etc. Dont be expecting answers though, most people will guide you on what to read or what to look out for but very few will be willing to just tell you the answer. Another good thing to get from them is advice on other course. Lots of people have done a lot of different courses and one is bound to have touched on a course your interested in.

So why not Like my page then go and see if your course has a group on Facebook? It will be one of the best things you could do to help your study, I promise.

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Im Back with the Open University

Im BackIm Back !! Just a short post (I will do a more updated one in the next few days) but I have registered with the Open University for my next 2 courses starting in September and January. I have taken nearly 2 years out of my degree study but thats not to say I have done no study at all.

There has also been a new arrival in the Gibson house and the Gibson house has also moved so its been a very busy year all round but I will tell you all everything in my next post :)

I will have to do a bit of tidying up on the blog and make sure everything is working ok. If you spot anything please let me know so I can get it fixed ASAP.

So for now im happy to be back studying with the Open University and will update you all shortly.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Random Things

Doing nothing since my English GCSE finished

Nothing Since my English GCSEEnglish GCSE has finished, now what?

As you may know I pulled out of S283 Planetary Science a few months ago and my English GCSE has now finished (more details below). So now I’m doing absolutely nothing study wise and I’m missing it.  I shouldn’t really be complaining as Lisa is sitting beside me 38 weeks pregnant and feeling ready to pop.  So I guess the baby comes first :)

So what else has been happening ……..

English GCSE

On 29th May I sat my English GCSE exam, I was doing the higher tier and to be honest it wasn’t that bad. I had done a few practice papers in the weeks running up to it so had a good idea of what to expect.  It had the usual questions, but I had a big smile on my face when I seen what the first question in section B was …….. Write a blog post about a recent challenge I overcame, so obviously my time spent posting here came in handy.

I was given an extra half hour due to my dyslexia so that extra time really helped. Even though I had finished most of the exam in proper time, I was then able to go over all the questions a few times and found a few mistakes and tidied up a few answers, so time well spent.

One thing that did surprise me was the lack of people doing the higher paper, most were doing the foundation and I think the split was 36-5. For some reason I thought with it being a night course with more mature students they would have been aiming for the higher grades, guess I was wrong.

So now I have to wait until 23rd of August for my English GCSE results. I had been sitting on the C-B border line before the exam, so I’m confident I should have at least passed with a ‘C’, Just hope that comment doesn’t come back to haunt me!!!

Open University

With the baby due any minute I think it would be unwise to register for any courses at the minute until I see if I have the time to dedicate to them. However one thing I may consider is doing MST121 starting in October. My thinking is, It’s a level 1 so workload should be easier than the level 2’s, its only 30 pts so again low workload. My biggest appeal to it is that it allows me to brush up on my maths before starting my level 2 courses again, this has been something I had been worried about.

So for now I have made no decisions and will just spent the next few months looking after the new baby.

Exciting Blog Updates

I’m also working on a exciting new update for my blog and will hopefully be announcing it on Friday (assuming the baby hasn’t arrived between now and then). It’s something for all Open University students and I would love you all to take part.

More to come soon ……… But fingers crossed for my Engligh GCSE result !

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, GCSE English

Sent Open University an E-Mail to withdraw from S283 Planetary Science

So it’s now done, I have sent an E-Mail to the Open University to withdraw from S283 Planetary Science. I have known for week that it would be happening but with TMA03 due next week I thought I should sort it out now. Having talked it over with student support last month, they felt the same as me, that its better to delay and try and get a higher result than just scraping through this year. So now I’m quickly downloading all the book and weekly activity PDF’s so that I can still work at my own pace for starting again next year. Should have really done that before contacting them !!!

Open University Transitional fees:

I know some of you including Phil from have mentioned about what could happen with my fees with withdrawing from the course. For me that isn’t a problem as I’m based in Northern Ireland and for the time being I’m still under the old Open University fee system. So hopefully I will be back up and running well before any changes happen.

On a happier note:

I have moved house in the last few weeks and that’s one of the reasons I haven’t done a blog post on a while. We moved from a 2 bedroom apartment to a nice big 4 bedroom house with big garden for Josh and the new baby to enjoy in the summer.

Also the garden is very dark with no nasty street lights and a good view of the sky so the telescope should be getting a good bit of use over the next few years, or I may have to treat myself to a new one like this Sky-Watcher Skyliner 300P ,  but only if Lisa allows me !!! I think I will have to be very very nice to her.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Random Things, S283: Planetary science

Pulling out of S283 Planetary Science :(

After a lot of thinking I have decided it is time for some changes. Things have been very busy around here the last few months and something has to give. Unfortunately it looks like it’s going to be Open University S283 Planetary Science.  I feel really crap about doing it but overall I think it will be for the best.

My main reasons for being under pressure is firstly the baby on the way and secondly a bit of change with the business over the last 6 months.

So with a baby on the way things have changed, mainly priorities but also time available. We already have a 4 year old but have been able to work my study around him but with a second on the way that will get even harder. Also Lisa has been getting lots of sickness with this pregnancy and it has been going on for about 3 months now so again that is putting a strain on time as well.

As for the work reason, everything had been going ok but all this has just pushed it over the edge. Last year we were working in an office with 2 other girls helping out. However this year we have cut a lot of costs, moved the office back into the house and its now just me and Lisa. So the upside is we’re saving lots more money, but the down side is we have to do a lot more work ourselves. This has meant I have gone from working part time most days it’s now nearly full time.

Now if I only had one of these things I probably could have managed, but both together and at this minute in time it’s just too much so I have to give up something.

As for the reason of giving up S283 Planetary Science and not the English GCSE, well that’s down to thinking if I give up on the GCSE now I may not go back to it, where as S283 I know I will go back to it. The plan is I have the books for S282 Astronomy and S283 Planetary Science so I will be able to do a lot of the work for both of these over this year and then officially start them again at the end of 2012. Looking at my courses over the next few years pulling out of S283 shouldn’t make any difference to when I finish my degree,  there was 1 year with only 30 pts so I can rearrange the others so this one can slot in nicely.

So at this minute in time I’m 99% sure this is what I’m going to do, just still need to make the call to pull out of it but think I will wait a week or so before doing it.

Has anyone else out there been in the same position and have to pull out of their Open University studies? How did you deal with it?


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, GCSE English, S283: Planetary science

Need help from students with Dyslexia

DyslexiaDyslexia, I need some help.

As some of you may know, I was recently tested and diagnosed with Dyslexia, I knew I had it when I was a kid but it was probably over 20 years ago I was last tested. I was given a good lot of good advice and equipment, mainly a smart pen, dictation and mind map software. The post about it all can be founf at “Studying at the Open University with Dyslexia“.

Anyway its now been a few months and I have been trained in the software and found out what is useful and not useful for me, so I thought happy days. However, now that im doing level 2 module’s I need to take notes for revision and it’s really getting me down !!! All my level 1’s I did without notes and was able to do them fine and with good results, but knowing that I have exams at the end of S283 I really need notes to revise.

I have currently been making them through chapters 1 to 5 (S283) and, I have found it takes about twice the time to make my notes and dictate them (I will explain that later) than it does to do my 2 read through’s of the chapter. So for what used to take 3-4 hours for a chapter now takes up to 10 or 12 hours (Both times exclude answering the questions). This has really sucked the fun out of it for me :(

This is my process:

  • Read the full chapter
  • Re-read the chapter and highlight important info
  • Do notes on each important info
  • Dictate them (This is so I can play back over MP3 while out walking)

Here is an example pic from one of my note pages for S283

Dyslexia NotesI don’t know if it’s just me ore does everyone feels like this? I feel I learn more from doing my research for TMA questions than doing notes.

So I guess my big question is “How do other students with Dyslexia cope with notes ??” I would love your feedback and suggestions.


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Dyslexia, S283: Planetary science, Study Notes

You can now follow me on Facebook, who wants to Like me ???

I was playing around with the blog yesterday and noticed a new widget for Facebook, so after a little messing about I now have a Facebook page where you can follow My Open University Life.

All you have to do is click the Like button in the top right menu bar or just click on the Facebook logo and it will take you to my page and you can like it from there. It will mainly be for my blog posts but feel free to share it and post on my wall.

Ok its now time for study, I have a few hours today then a few hours tonight so hopefully get a good bit done. The cut off date for S283 TMA2 is 3 weeks today and by the looks of things im 3 week behind so its going to be tough, but not impossible :)

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Random Things

Just cant get back into the swing of things :(

So here we are, just over a week after New Years and 2 weeks after Christmas, the drink has been drunk, the food and sweets have been eaten, the fun has been had ……. and now I just can’t get back into the way of study again :( who else is feeling the same… come on tell me im not the only one feeling like this !!!

I had lots of good intentions, I was a week or so ahead on S283 when I submitted TMA1 at the start of December and got a good result of 79%. I had planned to us the time off work (we can only really take Christmas off during the year due to working for ourselves) to get even further ahead so I could stay on top of things over the next few month. But something happened, during December a few nights off here and there turned into a few more nights off that turned into a week of and now were at about 3 week with very little study done gggrrr.

I don’t know whats going on im now about 2 weeks behind on S283 and a little behind on my GCSE English, although that will be easy to catch up on. I tried to kick-start it last week but just wouldn’t happen. Josh, my son, was off nursery with chicken pox so that probably didn’t helping, but he is back today so hopefully that will help me get back into my normal daily routine.

So this morning I have worked out what I need to do every day to get caught up buy next Monday, and I need to stick to it as TMA2 is due on the 31st Jan. Im going to keep posting here every other day so that you can all shout at me and kick my ass if I get behind again.



Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S283: Planetary science

The Story of S155 Scientific Investigations…

I know some people are going to disagree with what I’m going to say about this course but these are my opinions on it.

First of all S155 Scientific Investigations is an online course, I think this threw some people at the start as they were expecting a delivery with books etc but all we got was a few sheets of paper, a mug mat and some PH paper, that was it.  All the “books” were online and were called “Good experiments guide” and was in three parts.  During the course we had to do 5 experiments and an online field study. This was also the first course where I had taken part in Elluminate sessions so they were quite interesting aswell.

First of all, the reading material…

The “Good Experiments Guide” is split into 3 parts and in the region of 30 printed pages per part, its designed to be looked at onscreen but most people didn’t like this so printed it out. The reading itself isn’t too hard and each part can be polished off in a few hours.  Part 1 starts on week 1, part 2 in week 4 and part 3 around week 6, so there is plenty of time to get the reading done.

The experiments…

As this is about scientific investigation there are of course some experiments to do.  We had 5 in total, Mug mats, sound perception, reaction times, investigating soil an experiment on seeds that will determine what EMA you will do.  The first 3 are very easy to do and don’t require any equipment the last 2 are a little harder and do require some bits and pieces like plastic bottles, tin cans and other easy gotten equipment.

The hardest bit of all the experiment is working with the other students, at the start you will be assigned a group with about 12 other students and you will work within your own group forum and discuss things like how to do experiments, any problems and your results.  This may sound easy and in my group I can say we had good discussions but I have heard about many people not liking this aspect of the course. They say that due to only getting online once or twice a week they felt left out and constantly behind in the decisions about experiments.

The experiments themselves are presented online but again can be printed out, there is also some videos to watch on some of the experiments.

The online field study was the dullest part of the course, it was about lichen on a coast line and included video, photo and reading material. The subject just didn’t appeal to me to I felt very board in doing it. Also people also found it very hard to distinguish between the different lichens in the photographs.

The Elluminate sessions…

This was the first I had used these and they were fun to do, if you have never seen or heard of them chances are you will over the next few years as I think the OU will be leaning towards these more than providing face to face tutorials. It’s like a chat room but as well as just typing you can use your microphone and webcam, if you want to.  I attended 3 in total, the tutor will do most of the speaking and asking questions and you can then give thumbs up or down to agree or disagree. I didn’t talk or do the webcam but did type a few questions or responses to questions.

The EMA…

During the course you will do 3 iCMA’s but these are only practice ones and will have no bearing on your result at the end of the course. They are there to let you get used to the type of questions that will be asked on the EMA.

Now I have been used to doing iCMA’s with S104 and S151, but a lot of the questions were a little vague on what they are asking, for example you may be asked a question and some of the answers are very similar, just worded slightly different.  Asking in the forums a good few people found this and it was a little frustrating. However the questions in the EMA weren’t as vague so in the end it didn’t really make a big difference.

On the website you will see five different EMA’s listed but you will only do 1 of them and this will be determined by what decisions are made by your group in the final seeds experiment. Once you have posted your results for this experiment you will then be given access to the EMA, so make sure you leave yourself enough time to complete both before the cut off date.

Verdict on S155 Scientific Investigations…

All in I found it an easy enough 10pt course with a few niggles but nothing majorly wrong with it. I had 110pts at level 1 under my belt when starting it so have a good knowledge of how things work, but if your new it may take a little more time to find your way around the site.

Remember that this is a 10pt course over 10 weeks so this means it’s on the same power as a standard 30pt course that is over 6 – 9 months, don’t be thinking this will be an easy 10pts without having to put in much work.

I know some people will disagree with me on all this but I didn’t find the course that big a deal, a few dull tedious bits but nothing that made me feel bad about the course, I actually enjoyed most of it and would say there is nothing to dread about it.

My recommendations…

The reading material is interesting and not to intense but be prepared to print out the pages and remember this may cost a few quid in ink.

The experiments will need so equipment so look at this list when the site opens and be prepared to find and buy some stuff, again it may cost a few quid but nothing too bad.

Over the course I probably spent £10-£15 on different things for the course including printing.

The forums may be a bit hit or miss but make sure you go in a few times a week and spend half an hour looking and responding to other peoples comments. This is a part of the course you will need to pass, if you don’t participate in these conversations you will fail. Now when it says participate I don’t know if it means 2 or 3 posts over the course or 2 or 3 posts per week so I will leave it up to you to decide. I was posting a few times per week or even a few times per day on some discussions, so be prepared for this. On the other side of this if no one else is taking part in discussions but you are at least trying to I doubt you will be marked down for this.

The EMA is easy enough, just make sure you do the practice ones and double check every question a few times before entering your answer. You will be surprised at how many silly mistakes you pick up doing this.  You can roughly calculate your score as you go along for example mine had 21 questions so 100 / 21 = 4.7% so for every question correct on 1st attempt will be 4.75%. 2nd attempt is about 2/3 the marks and 3rd attempt 1/3 the marks, So..

1st = 4.7%, 2nd = 3.1%, 3rd = 1.6%

These are all ball park figures and my opinions of how they are marked so don’t take this a gospel.  Using this way a got a figure close to what appeared in my grade book just after the course finished.

And remember you need to get over 40% in the EMA but also show that you participated and made a contribution in the forums.

I hope this helps people out there who are thinking about taking the course and if you have already taken it please feel free to comment on how you felt it was.

Other reviews on this course can be found here in the S155 reviews section


Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, Course Reviews, S155: Scientific investigations

Were having a baby !!!!

Again sorry for the lack of posts but the last few months have been a little nuts. Top of the nuts list is were having another baby !! :)

We found out in October and told everyone just before christmas and its going to mean a lot of changes. One of the big things that will happen this year is we will both be scaling back on our study, (Lisa has just started a psychology degree with the OU) so even though I had planned to do S282 Astronomy in February, that wont be happening now. On the plus side, delaying it by a year wont have any effect on the end date of my degree so it’s not to big a deal.

So for the rest of this year I will be doingS283 Planetary science ending in June, and GCSE English ending in May. Then fingers crossed the baby will be popping out end of June and that will give me 7 or 8 months without any study and plenty of time for the sleepless nights :)

As for S155 Scientific investigation, that’s all finished and im very confident I have passes. I will post a full report on it today and im sure there will be plenty of people who disagree with my opinions on it. It felt like a Marmite course people either loved it or hated it.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, GCSE English, S155: Scientific investigations, S282: Astronomy, S283: Planetary science