Sunday, March 09, 2008

Starting Singapore Science

Since moving to Moscow, I haven't kept Brian up to date with Singapore school-work, just some Math. Science has been sorely neglected, and in his school's curriculum, science is taught as part of a unit of inquiry (some units do not contain science topics), not as a subject.

This evening, I decided it was time for him to start work on a Pri5 assessment book, which may be outdated since I bought this series some time ago, anyway, it's called Science Companion by EPH. His task was to read the first chapter on Solar System and then complete all the questions.

Some 5 minutes into his task, and on Page 5 of the book, he looked at me and said, "Mummy, this is wrong."

Me, surfing Malaysian election news (and some Jason Castro stuff of course) beside him, reply in an irritated way, "What are you talking about?"

Brian: "This part is wrong. It says that the sun does not move but I read somewhere that it moves."

See the 4th fact under Sun here, does not move.

Me, bewildered and worried that years away from Singapore have taken its toll: "WHAT??!! Of course the sun DOES NOT MOVE! Please ah, get your facts right okay!"

Brian: "But I read it in the Horrible Science book, that the sun and the whole solar system orbit the centre of the Milky Way."

Me: "Okay, then show me which book says this."

Brian: "Can't we just google it?"

Me, very convinced Singapore's workbook was right and him just mighty confused: "No, you always remember where you read stuff from. It can only be from Space, Stars and Slimy Aliens or The Gobsmacking Galaxy. Go look. You better get your facts right, don't get confused." I shake my head, big sigh in my heart.

30 seconds later, he shows me this and says, "See!"

Me: "Er...oh....okay, go google it and see what it says."

Brian goes off unwillingly: "But I've never seen anything that contradicts Horrible Science except this."

30 seconds later, he calls out to me from the study: "I found it."

Another confirmation.

Well, not only does the Sun move by revolving around the centre of the Milky Way, it also spins in a rotation known as a differential rotation, with its North and South Pole spinning a little slower than its equatorial centre.

Anyway, Brian said it's impossible for an object to orbit a stationary object indefinitely, cos the orbiting object would gravitate towards the stationary object and collide with it. I couldn't find anything on the net to confirm this, so if this is erroneous, please let us know.


Hsien Lei said...

You should know better than to doubt Brian! He reads and thinks about this stuff way more than us adults although reading about this does bring back some (not so) fond memories for me.

Lilian said...

Thanks for all the research you did today! I'm gonna get all this down on the blog after mahjong :)

Tsu Lin + + said...

Dear Lilian, I stumbled upon your blog from Roslyn's.

And I'm really in awe with the stuff you teach your boys. I only know that at 10 years old, I don't know most of these facts (infact at 30 - yes that's my age, i only knew now).

Re the Sun's movements : Perhaps S'pore Science was using the Theory of Relativity - that the Sun does a not move "in relation" to the solar system? But then, it's prob also faulted as you said it does a "differential rotation" (although I don't quite get how it spins slower at both ends than the equatorial centre).

Brian is such a brainiac!

Lilian said...

Hi Tsu Lin, welcome! I was just browsing through your blog, really interesting, I'll be checking in often! I saw you went to Goldmine recently, that's my husband's and Brian's favourite restaurant (not mine) when we were in London and we know all the staff there :). And are you Malaysian too?

Yeah, I did think about the relative to solar system bit, and told Brian so too, ie, it's the entire solar system that's orbiting the Milky Way, but then this spinning bit came up. The reason the sun can spin at different rates is cos it's not solid.

Look what I got from yahoo answers "Because the Sun is not solid, but is instead a giant ball of gas and plasma, different parts of the Sun spin at different rates. The movements of the sunspots indicate that the Sun rotates once every 27 days at the equator, but only once in 31 days at the poles."

Brian's pretty good at non-textbook knowledge, ie stuff he read from various sources...but he hasn't mugged from the Singapore science syllabus yet, so there are huge gaps in his knowledge.

I'm going back to your blog now :)

Tsu Lin + + said...

Re Goldmine : Why don't you like Goldmine? We used to go to 4 Seasons, but rumours has it that their chef came over to GM - so I went and tested it out once and thought GM's ducks tasted pretty as good as 4S's!

And because 4S is always usually packed, I much prefer GM for its "dining experience" (Attentive staff, QUICK food (almost too quick ;) and good food IMHO)...


I think perhaps the S'pore syllables may not be very satiable to Brian's thirst of knowledge. ;)

I need to backtrack reading about "life of lilian" too. You travelled far and wide!

Lilian said...

:) Goldmine's duck is really good...but the other dishes very inconsistent. And I still like Four Seasons' sauce better. But you're right, service at GM is much better, and the venue is more spacious too. Gosh, I miss London food.