Category Archives: S155: Scientific investigations

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

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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

I have been a bad blogger again this month!!

Sorry guys, I’ve been a bad blogger this last month. I have been getting into the swing of all the new courses and I just haven’t had time to do any new posts.

So I have started quite a lot with this last month, my English GCSE is now on week eight, am about to start my final experiment for S155, so only three weeks left to go and then I’m a few weeks into S283. So I have been a busy little bee this month.

I will try and give updates on all these courses over the next week and let use all know how things are standing.

One thing I had been doing the last few weeks is getting used to the Dragon dictation software, I’m actually using that to type all this out, well not type, speak. I’m finding that it is good of all the basics but I just have two teach at all the scientific terms, and saying course codes is a pain in the backside as well. But I have been told that you just have to stick with that for a while and it gets used to your voice. So I will give it a try for this month and see how it goes.

I will be back soon, I promise :-)

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

Been very busy these last few weeks …….. but not with study.

So its been a week or so since I have done an update on the blog and for good reason…… I have been doing bugger all study. It’s mainly due to 2 reasons, firstly, I have been working flat-out with work. We have been doing a lot of website work etc and I want to get it all done before S151 starts in October. So im putting all my efforts into getting that finished off so that I don’t have to work on it later. Secondly, even though I was planning to get a head start on S282, I have found it very hard to get motivated. I think its due to there being no time limits etc. For some reason I seem to work better when I know, for example that in 10 days I have so submit a TMA, this gives me a target I can’t miss where as at the min with my self-made calender there is no targets or deadlines. I don’t like the fact that I can’t get motivated without the targets but sure nothing can be done about it.

On another note, my material for S151 should be getting posted at the end of next week so starting to look forward to receiving them and looking through whats in store :)

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

Degree updates for B64 Natural Sciences from the Open University

After months of waiting the Open University have finally published the recommended degree routes for the B64 BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences.

Firstly the degree routes they have given out are

  • Astronomy and Planetary Science
  • Biology and Health Science
  • Chemistry and Analytical Science
  • Earth Sciences
  • Environmental Science

Obviously these are just recommended routes and we can make it up from any of the S code courses but, the Astronomy and Planetary Science is the way I will be going. So I now have a list of my courses and finally worked out what I should be doing for the maths parts of the course. My new route is now :

  • S151: Maths for Science, 10pt (Compleated)
  • S196: Planets, 10pt (Compleated, should have been S154)
  • S104: Exploring Science, 60pt (Compleated)
  • S155: Scientific Investigation, 10pt (Starting Oct’11)
  • S283: Planetary Science and the search for life, 30pt (Starting Nov’11)
  • S282: Astronomy, 30pt (starting Feb’12)
  • SXP288: Practical Science Physics and Astronomy, 30pt
  • MST209: Mathematical methods and models, 60pt
  • S382: Astrophysics, 30pt
  • S383: The Relativistic Universe, 30pt
  • SMT359: Electromagnetism, 30pt
  • SXP390: Science Project Radiation and Matter, 30pt

So it’s all as easy as that (I wish), as it stands I have currently compleated 80 pts and will have compleated another 70 pts by the end of oct’12.

As for the courses, it was pretty much what I had expected to be doing, but it’s just nice to get confirmation of what I should be aiming for. There’s a possibility of doing SXP288 Practical Science Physics and Astronomy in 2012 but it will mean me doing 90pts at one go for about 4-5 months and im thinking that would just be silly as i found out at the start of this year.

The only downside to not doing the course in 2012 is that it will delay getting my degree by another year, unless I can add the extra 30pt into one of the following years.

hhhhmmm, decisions decisions….

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science, S151: Maths for Science, S155: Scientific investigations, S196: Planets an Introduction, S282: Astronomy, S283: Planetary science, SXP288: Practical science

My plan for over the summer

It’s now about 5 weeks since I submitted the final part of S104 ‘Exploring Science’ and I have enjoyed doing absolutely no study !!! but now im missing it a little. So this is my plan for the next few months….

Firstly I have registered for S155 Scientific investigations starting on the 1st Oct and S283 Planetary science starting on the 1st Nov so they will keep me busy from then but I need something to do now.  So I have decided, since I had to pull out of S282 Astronomy and plan to do it again next year (Feb 2012), I may as well start a bit of early study on it.  I have all the books and first few TMA’s and all the online activities, so I have adjusted the study calendar and from today I officially start my unofficial S282 course :) . This will give me about 13 weeks to get a good head start on it and given that I have already covered the first lot of weeks I may be able to get a few weeks further on.

So hopefuly this will keep me busy enough with out taking to much time, I never want to be doing the 90 pts in one go like I was a few months ago.

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Filed under BSc (Honours) Natural Sciences B64, S104: Exploring Science, S155: Scientific investigations, S282: Astronomy, S283: Planetary science