Friday, 26 May 2006

The Planets

I've always had an interest in planets, and this course seemed like an ideal opportunity to explore this more. I mean, I knew what they were all called, and where they were more or less, I'd even seen Partick Moore talk about them live.

It came with
  • A course book
  • A Teach Yourself Planets book (always referred to as TYP).
  • A CD with images and facts on
  • A couple of Computer Marked Assignments.

The course looks at each of the 9 (as there were when I started it, but not by the end!) planets, and other solar system objects in detail, and a final chapter on planets around other systems.

Besides the basic facts or orbits and moons, there is a fair bit about the geology of each planet, or at least as much as is known.

The multi choice CMA at the end is harder than it sounds. Some of the questions it is quite hard to argue for which ones are right. I found one of them seemed to hinge on exactly what a planetary body was - the course books themselves have 3 different definitions.

Anyway, another 10 points accumulated.

Wednesday, 24 May 2006

Fossils and the history of life

Another large cardboard box arrived.
Now this one had
  • A course book
  • A colourful atlas of ancient life
  • A couple of ECA papers
  • A DVD
  • Some notes
  • A pack of fossil casts
The encyclopaedia is very colourful, but a little difficult to balance when lounging on the settee trying to read it. The course book is quite thorough and keeps directing you to read various bits of the atlas.
Its a fascinating course as we move from no life, to early life to the cambrian explosion and so on.
Then horror of horror, you have to use the supplied fossils with a supplied hand lens, and SKETCH them. Draw? DRAW? Don't they know I can barely write these days and I do all my work on computers? I've never been much good at drawing, so this is a bit of a shock!

I make a valiant stab at it - but lets face it, it wont win any prizes!

There is also confusion about the difference between bivalves and brachiopods - the rules seem simple but the most common of fossils flaunts the rule cruelly.

Anyway, this course finishes with a CMA (Computer marked assignment) so its pick one of A,B,C,D,E,F etc, or in some cases two or three. So there is no worry about getting the words right - but the questions are a lot more difficult than they sound.

Anyway - this one you can submit online if you like, so I did that, and passed he course. Another one down!