Tuesday, September 27, 2011

I will miss her..

She was a mentor, a friend, sister, counselor. It has been more a week and I am already feeling the loss. She was always so energetic and bubbly that even to last days of her life, I could not believe her when she said that she was leaving.  Lying down with her eyes closed and tablets inside her mouth, she practically shouted when her husband, Prof Nik called out that I was there. She's immediately swallowed the tablet and shouted "Huh...Siti is here.......?" In her pain, she still remembered to ask me about my researches. When I told her that I'm teaching STS for trainee teachers at IPG, she enthusiastically exclaimed that I should take the opportunity to do researches there. We talked for a while.  I should have talked more (Prof Nik reminded me not to make her talk too much) but anyhow ended up as the listener. She talked about her students, family and indicated that she might not be well again. While talking, she requested for more drinks and said that it tasted good that day.....

Allahyarhamah Prof Dr Khalijah Mohd Salleh was my supervisor when I was doing my post graduate studies in UKM. I first met her at the physics department (PPFG) in 2004 when I started my PhD. I came to her, determined with a research in mind, but she was so full of ideas which I finally accepted and adapted into my research. The first year was full of bickering between the two of us mainly about my researches. In April 2005, I came for my supervision and she asked me if I was ready to present at an international conference. I panicked but welcomed the idea of visiting India for the International Conference of Physics Education (ICPE) 2005. I was offered a poster presentation, and immediately prepared the poster. By the end of 2005, I presented an oral presentation at an international conference in Penang (CoSMEd). From there on I was presenting research papers locally and internationally such as at the ICPE 2006 (Japan), ICPE 2007 (Marrakech), SciEd Asia Pacific 2007 (Bangkok) and participated in the ALOP ASIA 2006 workshop. She was always with me, being supportive and listened patiently while I practiced my presentations.

The one thing I could not forget about her was that she was always trying not to burden me financially when she invited me to present at the international conferences. She would either be paying for my registration fees or tried to find financial supports so that I could attend these conferences. We always took advantage of these trips by visiting places, take short tours and enjoyed the foreign food.
ICPE 2006-Japan

Visit to Rajashtan after Alop Asia

Conducting a workshop at ICPE 2007 Marrakech

SciEd Asia Pacific 2007 Bangkok

With Prof Nik & Dr Sakinah during the ICPE2007 dinner in Marrakech 
Prof Khalijah had always been a very dedicated supervisor. She will take my work to her colleagues and get second opinions if she needed to. She respected my expertise in education field and was willing to give in and accepted my ideas. Her passion was in education researches and she was always trying to find ways to make physics easier and meaningful to her students, and relate the laws of physics to the Al Quran.

I know that I have not visited her often after completing my studies. Sometimes she would call me and asked me to present at workshops or give talks to school children. I would also visit her, but not as often as before.. So why I would I miss her..? Well....before she leaves, I always felt that I have someone to turn to if I ever needed any support; professionally or even emotionally. At the back of my mind, she will always there if I ever needed her. But she is gone I will have to spread my wings and fly on my own far as she has taught me to. To Allahyarhamah Prof Khalijah, thank you so much for all that you have done. Al Fatihah..

Sunday, March 13, 2011

True beauty: Blue Mountain

It was the school holidays again and we traveled to Sydney to visit our son, Ridhwan. On the fourth day of our visit, we decided to have a look at the infamous Blue Mountain and rented a car to drive a town called Katoomba. It was a long and exhausting trip but as we passed through Katoomba town, we were rewarded by the most beautiful sight of the Blue Mountain. Everyone were tired after the long journey, but as my son pointed to a place at the far end of the town, we were totally mesmerized...! The whole valley was blue and it was a picture of beauty...something that I have never seen before. The feeling that I felt when I saw the Blue Mountains was the same as what I felt when I passed trough a small, dark tunnel and see the magical Taj Mahal at the other end of it. Hypnotised, wonderment..there were just no words that give justice to its beauty...........

Of course the question came into my head was, why blue? I argued with my son that the phenomenon was not due to the reflection of blue light from the leaves of the trees, as I did not see any blue leaves around me. Being myself, I will never be happy until I get the answers to my question, so rushed to a gift shop nearby and looked for souvenir books that explain the blue colour of the mountain. Then I found it..! The Eucalyptus tree..the gum.!

So my next mission was to look for the trees. How does it look like? I believed the trees that I found in this picture was one of them. The leaves were green, so why blue?
Syafiqah & me on a misson to search for the gum tree (nothing blue found..)
This is how it looked like from above. Slightly purplish..still not blue. The air around the trees seemed clear and normal and not hazy like in the first picture.

Here they are..! But still not blue..
Well, the explanation is like this. The mountain has high density of eucalyptus tree (as seen in the picture above) which release gum in the form of tiny droplets of eucalyptus vapour. White light is made up of several colours; red, orange,blue etc...with red having the largest wavelength and blue having one of the shortest wavelengths. The atmosphere is filled with finely dispersed droplets of oil, dust particles and water vapour will scatter short-wave length rays of light which are predominantly blue.

This type of scattering is called the Rayleigh scattering. Water and dust particles are often quite large for Rayleigh scattering to occur. However, the abundance eucalyptus vapour in the atmosphere allows Rayleigh's scattering as their sizes are smaller than the wavelength of the colour scattered. So when white light enters the particle, mostly blue colour will be scattered as blue has a very small wavelength (about 400 nm compared to 700 nm in red light). However, a different type scattering (Mie scattering) occurs for red light  that results in red sky during sunset.
So what we actually saw was the end product of the scattering, which is like a blue haze. Having figured out the reason for the blue colour gave me the satisfaction of enjoying the scenic view of the Blue Mountain. I'm glad that the authorities have taken measures to preserve the trees. The Blue Mountain is now in the World Heritage list. The view is breathtaking, and I hope that it will remain so..   

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

My Moroccan experience

I just came back from Marrakesh 2 weeks ago. It was for an International Workshop of Optics and Photonics (IWOP) 2010 organised by the Optical Society of America (OSA). It was my first trip alone to foreign country. Before this, there were always somebody travelling with me when I was at conferences at different parts of the world. I wasn't quite confident initially but finally decided to go on with the trip and presented my poster there.

Let me share my trip with you. First was my 6 hrs flight with Emirates to Dubai, followed by an 8 hour trip to Casablanca. Dubai airport was was a shopping heaven..! With the ringgit going strong against the USD, I managed to spend my 3 hrs transit time shopping. I came up the flight to Casa with a bottle of Pleasure Bloom and a set of Lancome eyeshadow. Everything went well until I reached Casablanca where I needed to take a train to Marrakesh. So here began my journey of communicating with the locals, who actually speak the two languages that I did not...Arab and French, or a mixture of both (like our Manglish lah..!) Most of them did not speak English, but somehow I managed to put on my charms and get some men to help me carry my luggage and buy me a train ticket to L'Oasis, and then another train to Marrakesh.

The train trip was an interesting one. I have to go down in L√ďasis to take the train to Marrakesh. Sitting at the station, I befriended a girl (about Kamar's age) who could speak English quite well and informed me that that announcement that we just heard (which was in French) was to inform us that the train will be delayed for about 1/2 an hour. So I sat at the station for 1/2hr (more actually)..enjoying the sensation of the cool Casablanca breeze flowing through my face.

In the train, I sat with 3 Moroccan ladies who looked suspiciously at me. Sitting down next to one of them, I clutched my luggage tightly , not knowing what to do with it. I was looking around and trying to figure out where I could put them when one lady sensed my discomfort and suggested that I put it at the shelf above us. Upon hearing her, an elderly man immediately came to me, took my luggage and put it on the shelf (the same man volunteered to bring down the luggage just before we reached Marrakech..!). About the ladies, after a few minutes of sitting, smiling and staring at each other, they decided to start a conversation. One of them asked me if I'm from the Philipines. I replied that I'm from Malaysia which triggered the next question. Muslim? Yes, I begin the excitement of meeting a sister in islam. However, the excitement was short lived when we realised that both parties did not understand each other. So..even thinking about it now make reminds me of how tiring it was to understand each other via sign languages and speaking to one other using different languages that neither of the other party could understand . Somehow, with my very limited Arabic, I managed to find out that one of them is getting down at the same station as me, but to different destination.

I reached Marrakech at about 7pm, lost and wandering..not sure of what I should do next. With the help of more courteous Marrakesh men, I somehow managed to get a taxi to the hotel. So I finally reached my destination..the Club de Vacances CNSS. I breathed a sigh of relief when I was greeted by my friends and other fellow physic educators. So thank you Khalid and the organizing committee for the invitation, warm welcome & definitely the grant..:)

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

New life

The new semester is starting week to be exact. Actually, it was 3 weeks of holiday for us at the Teaching Institute..which is an extra 1 week from the normal school holidays. So having 'rested' for 2 weeks, I wonder if I should have cleaned up the house, prepare good meals for the children, tidy up the wardrobe etc..etc..which actually did not happen.

Two of the kids will be leaving the house soon. One to London & the other one to UiTM Penang. So the holidays is filled up with a jumble of activities of preparing them for their new life journey. First week is a hassle of shopping for 2 sets of everything; bedsheets, shoes, clothes etc. which needed to be done as quickly as possible so that we won't miss the mid year sale. So we have trips after trips of shopping at Sogo, Pavilion, Sunway Piramid, Mid Valley Megamall and of course..the uptowns.

Second week is the hassle of preparing paperworks and application for UK visa for the girl..not an easy job..fixed deposits, passport size photos with white background (usually blue), translated birth certificate (needs to be done at the high court) etc..etc..Finally,I managed to pack the troop and headed back to JB by the end of the 2nd week.

So this is the last week of the holidays..and I'm counting the days..Monday, medical checkup for the boy, Giant and Sunway Pyramid for their last minute shopping. Tuesday, finally managed to do some work for the book..but have to go and shop again (Tesco this time). Tomorrow..? Kak Izan (a colleague) called to arrange for a short meeting in the morning for next sem's course, after that to the bank and jalan TAR (to shop again). Thursday..hopefully I will get to spent some time at home ( if the kids did not realise they have forgotten to buy something..again). Friday..trip to Penang to send son; Sat..his registration day. Sunday is last day of the holidays..hope I will manage to do something for the house then...

To my kids..farewell & welcome to a new life journey.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Learn physics? But we're teaching primary science...

Why is the sky blue? Why do I move forward when the bus stops? Why are my legs shorter in water? Why? Why? Why? As parents,we answered questions after questions to quench our child's thirst for knowledge. As they grow older and reach the primary level, more questions come into their minds that need to be answered. By who, but not us teachers..?

I have students asking me why they have to do physics when they're only going to teach primary science..My answer is..but if you did not do physics, how could you understand enough to teach these phenomena to your pupils? How would you select the best teaching strategies/approaches/aids? For example; pulleys make it easier to lift objects. But how does they make it easier? Of course you won't be talking about MA or IMA when explaining it to your pupils, but your knowledges of these will give you enough confidence that you will be able to explain their functions and how increasing the numbers make us require less force to pull the object up.

Remember that to teach a physics topic, you need to have the relevant knowledges; the content knowledge and pedagogical content knowledge (PCK).Content knowledges give you enough background information on the topic that you're going to teach, so that you will able to provide information, answer their questions or prepare relevant summatif assessments for your pupils. PCK on the other hand helps out when you're teaching as you will be able to identify problematic concepts, probable misconceptions and teach the topic according to your pupils' levels.

So students, to be an good teacher..know your physics concepts. Teaching primary science is not an excuse not to learn physics.

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Physics learning..?

Learning physics is never easy..Being a physics teacher for 16 years, the most common respond that I get each time I tell an individual that I'm a physics teacher, is that 'I was very weak in physics', 'I used to hate physics' or 'I only managed to get a P7 for physics in my SPM'. But my amazement was most of them will add another sentence 'Oh..but I remembered an experiment that uses the trolley that you have to push, then paste ticker tapes on to my lab book'

It kept me thinking why this experiment is more popular among these ex-physicists. Even those in their 40s and 50s remembered this small but not unsignificant part of their physics life. Why? So I came up with a few anwers:
(1) it involved hands-on learning; meaning that you were actively involved in the learning processes.
(2) you enjoyed the activities; the learning processes involved learning and playing at the same time. You were always communicating with one another in the classroom.
(3) You were free to move about in the laboratory during the lab class and a allowed make noise (which does not happen often in a physics classroom).
(4) You don't have the headache of trying to understand what is being taught as the learning process is simple and very straight foward. Push, cut, paste and there...the tape chart is created..! Movement with constant velocity, constant acceleration etc..everything right in front of you at the end of the lesson.

My conclusion is that active learning aided the cognitive process, while communication and use of our senses makes everything simpler and clearer.

Proud of being able to find the answers to my question, I asked an individual who was babbling about his experiences with the ticker tapes. 'So..what was your findings of these actvities?' He gave me a blank look and smiled...'That..I forget..' least he remembered the activities...