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Free-falling at the speed of scienceI got the opportunity to present my article "The Educational Power of Being Wrong" at the South African Institute of Physics Conference (SAIP) in Limpopo, last month. But if you have read my article - https://www.bizcommunity.com/PressOffice/PressRelease.aspx?i=208017&ai=189268 - you'll know that I do rather ramble through a number of disparate topics (scripture, smarties, mirrors, poetry, moonlight, climate change, even Nemo's lucky fin) so I really battled to get the thing to cohere into a 20-minute PowerPoint with a punchline. The people at TED will tell you that for their slots (18 minutes) you really need to share just the one idea so, finally, I picked what I thought was the main concept, and illustrated it with a live demo of tumbling technology. 20 Aug 2019 Read more

Peter HorszowskiDid you know that all colours of Smarties taste the same? Standard food colourant is flavourless so different colours are indistinguishable. I discovered this quite recently but have been hesitant to share it, because I suspect it's common knowledge. This happens to me periodically. I rush to share something tremendously interesting and most people wonder why I am bothering them with something so obvious. 2 Apr 2019 Read more

One of two possibilitiesI am standing in the splendid hall of the Smithsonian Museum in Washington. The guide points at the Wright Brothers' Kittyhawk plane hanging from the ceiling. "That is from 1903." He gestures towards the Apollo 11 Lunar Landing Module against the opposite wall. "1969," he says. "In less than the lifespan of an average man, we went from a few metres of flight to putting a man on the moon." 20 Nov 2018 Read more

How we fail our learners and what we can do about itEducational psychologists have identified four instinctive types of learning: 16 Jul 2018 Read more

My big idea for South African science educationWhen I matriculated nearly 30 years ago there were few matric options in South Africa. Now there are many more. I thought I'd give a brief overview and use it to present an idea for a new science programme. 17 Apr 2018 Read more

Bigger better faster more no moreI firmly believe that you get the most out of a lab prac if you do it yourself. It is more satisfying and meaningful. You almost feel like a pioneer. Science is never perfect so your results are usually distinctive. Mix in some natural egoism, and your experiment becomes extra special and memorable. 12 Dec 2017 Read more

What is practice, really?Roger Federer said, after his surprise practice session on the public tennis courts in Central Park: if you are not working on something when you practice, you are wasting your time. That struck me. Roger Federer has won 19 Grand Slams. (To put that into perspective: John McEnroe won 7.) He is probably the greatest Tennis player ever. Maybe even the best sportsman in history. Yet when he practices he works on specific things and genuinely tries to improve his game. I suppose that is what practice really is: arduous, focused and deliberate, with a particular goal. Not always fun. If you have ever coached kids, you will know the easiest thing is the so called practice game. The kids enjoy it and it is good for teamwork, fitness and strategy. But it doesn't do very much for their skill level, so it is not really practice, is it? 6 Nov 2017 Read more

When Google already knows the answer you have to change the questionThere is a famous image of a disgruntled Calvin from Calvin and Hobbes. In the naughty corner he complains: “For some reason they would rather teach us stuff that any fool can look up in a book.” That is from the 90's. B.G. (Before Google.) This problem is now more pressing, literally. In Calvin's day, you'd still have to find the right book and look through it. Today you can press a button in the palm of your hand. Or simply say: “Ok Google”. 12 May 2017 Read more

PERT... for a better way to teach2017 marks PERT's 50th year in technical education and training. When I was a young teenager, I actually asked my dad: “What is the difference between education and training?” He answered without hesitation: “Put it this way, would you rather have sex education or sex training?” (Of course this explains why we at PERT value practical work so highly!) But jokes aside, I hope that you can see how good this reply is. It immediately and memorably gets a concept across. At the same time, you realise you pretty much understood the thing anyway, and that you just needed a little guidance and prompting. That is good teaching. In fact, it is PERT's byline: For a better way to teach. 23 Feb 2017 Read more

This Christmas we may have to dig a little deeper for something to inspire usI believe it is a biblical principle that your weakness can become your strength. That is how it is with me and cooking. Because I am not very capable in the kitchen, I am extra careful with any recipe and fastidiously follow all the instructions and measurements. 13 Dec 2016 Read more

Peter Horszowski"Anyway," John Wilber, founder of Bytronic International told me, "the course material is the most important part." Really?! I was standing in front of a half a million rands' worth of complex process simulation equipment and he expected me to believe that a 50-page pack of experiment worksheets was the most important part? 6 Dec 2016 Read more

Peter HorszowskiPERT has exhibited at several trade shows over the last few years. We often hear the following: "I can't believe that you make this all here in South Africa. It looks imported!" But why should imported stuff be better quality than local material? I know we have our messy diversity down here. But, whatever the results from the Brexit and US Presidential election might suggest, I believe that diversity presents a real advantage. 29 Nov 2016 Read more

Practical work in a virtual worldIs online learning a real solution to the #Feesmustfall crisis? Certainly, it is a step forward from the old "Open University": public TV with mail assignments. E-learning is cheaper, faster and more direct. Plus, it has superior assessment, reporting and tracking features. But what about the practical skills? How do you teach, test and assess those online? New cloud based simulation packages for engineering may help. 9 Nov 2016 Read more

Five reasons why South Africa should not follow the world leaders in renewable energyGermany, France and the Scandinavian countries are world leaders in the production and implementation of renewable energy systems, so we should try follow their lead, right? Not so fast. Here are five reasons why South African training institutions should be cautious when following the European model. 23 Jun 2016 Read more

South African students can unleash their imaginations with new PASCO scientific wireless sensors from PertNew wireless sensors, which are the first in science education to be compatible across all operating system platforms, simplify lab setup and expand opportunities for hands-on learning 31 Mar 2016 Read more

A new South African product for a South African educational challenge"Solving practical problems and learning through your mistakes and repetitive actions is the way to learn electronics and digital concepts," says Mr Jan Randewijk, ex-departmental subject adviser and author of a number of textbooks in Electrical Technology. The trouble is, as Mr Randewijk also observes: "Due to the very limited time in the school sector, learning by doing is not always possible." So what to do? Learning by doing is critical to technical development but schools have limited resources, the scarcest of which may well be time. 23 Feb 2016 Read more