Sunday, September 26, 2010...11:17 pm

My first OU science project

Jump to Comments

My bid for scientific credibility has finally got off the ground with my very first Open University science experiment.
You can see the high-precision, high-tech equipment I’ve been devising to help me undertake Activity 2.1: Measuring Precipitation – part 1. It’s all a bit primary school – but actually quite instructive. After cutting down the water bottles and levelling off the bases with cement (whose weight will also help stabilise the gauges), I realise that I haven’t left a whole lot of room for the actual rain (or, technically, “precipitation”).
Luckily, I started measuring rainfall the day after a torrential downpour, so the measurements so far have been a straightforward, if unexciting, 0mm. If the weather gets a bit more iffy, though, things may get more complicated. Though obviously as I haven’t had any rain to measure yet, I could just make a couple of new and better ones and pretend I was using them all along (falsifying results already!).
The first course book has settled down a bit after a shaky start, when it more resembled a Green Party pamphlet than a science text. By chapter 3, though, it has largely morphed into what it really should have been all along – Measurement and Uncertainty, rather than the more crowd-pleasing Global Warming.
Rather unsettlingly, I’m getting much more of the basic maths wrong than I thought I would. Scientific notation and significant figures are rather dim memories from my schooldays – must try harder

1 Comment

  • I remember that we undertook a similar precipitation measurement experiment at my primary school using a glass milk bottle (remember them?) with a paper depth gauge taped to the side. However the experiment was abandoned after the first measurement revealed a suspiciously large amount of yellow rainwater.
    I think somebody got the strap for that!

Leave a Reply