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S151 Maths for Science

November 2002 - January 2003

OU S151 Course Description

S151 Website (Practise Assessment)

DiscoverySchool (maths help)

tcaep SI Units

Math in Daily Life

Understanding Mathematics: A Study Guide

Ask Dr Math :)



Algebra Help

Back to OU

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The Open University Home Page

OU Student Home Page

Course Contents:

Starting Points
  • Numbers
  • Fractions
  • Powers, reciprocals and roots
  • Doing calculations in the right order
Measurement in science
  • Large quantities and small quantities
  • Units of measurement
  • Scales of measurement
  • How precise are the measurements?
Calculating in science
  • Calculating area; thinking about units and significant figures
  • Calculating in scientific notation
  • Estimating answers
  • Unit conversions
  • An introduction to symbols, equations and formulae
  • Rearranging equations
  • Simplifying equations
  • Combining equations
  • Putting algebra to work
Using graphs
  • Graphical representations
  • Straight-line graphs
  • The equation of a straight line
  • Graphs of different shapes
Angles and Trigonometry
  • Measuring angles: degrees and radians
  • A quick look at triangles
  • Calculating with angles: trigonometry
  • Small angle approximations
  • Logarithms to base 10
  • Logarithmic scales revisited
  • Rules or logarithms
  • Using logarithms to make curves straight
  • Logarithms to base e
Probability and descriptive statistics
  • Chance and probability
  • Descriptive statistics
Statistical hypothesis testing
  • The principles of hypothesis testing
  • Deciding which test to use: levels of measurement
  • The X2-test
  • The Spearman rank correlation coefficient
  • The t-test for unmatched samples
  • Other statistical tests
  • Drawing tangents to curves
  • An introduction to differentiation
  • Differentiating exponential functions.

This is just a little 10-point short course (hah - I said that about TT280!), which I felt I should take. I never ever thought I would ever touch anything to do with maths - but I was quite badly disadvantaged in S260, by my miserable maths skills (anything resembling sums and I would turn the page quickly!). Anyway, might be fun!

Summary from the Course Description

Do you want to study science at Level 2, but are worried that your mathematical skills may be inadequate or rusty? Then this short course could be for you. The course assumes a knowledge of basic arithmetic and revises algebraic skills such as rearranging equations. It introduces additional mathematical skills, including the use of logarithms, trigonometry and differentiation. Worked examples, many with a scientific flavour, are provided throughout the course, and a large selection of additional questions are provided to enable you to practise new skills and increase your confidence.

Course Diary

22nd March 2003

Some little light relief from "Shock and Awe" this morning, when I got my official result. 85%. Good enough! :)

10th January 2003

I'm kind of whispering here, but I did the ECA today - and I think I did enough. No, I'm all but positive I did enough!! Wheeeeeeee! :) Phew, that was one of *the* most stressful experience ever! Result will be out in March.

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8th December 2002

It is interesting, that, on the S151 CD-ROM, the two ladies explaining equations and differentials in practise, show their faces - whereas the bloke who takes us through the tangents on graphs thingie ("Functions and Derivatives"), doesn't. He prefers to remain anonymous, obviously - and who can blame him? What on earth is he talking about?????graph.jpg - 10861 Bytes
So, I've been through the book (once). I can do the differentials (although don't pretend to understand them), but it's again the *basics* that let me down with my equations. Pluses and minuses; powers. Total bamboozlement. I'm going through the supplementary questions now (from the beginning) and attempting to sort my blank spots out as they come. Not an easy task!! I figure it's a kind of dyslexia, as with my rights/lefts/easts/wests - and it's very frustrating!!

statsign.jpg - 3576 Bytes 2nd December 2002

I removed the ruler and did the X2-tests, the Spearman rank correlation coefficients and the t-test for unmatched samples. Found it fascinating and more like logic puzzles than some of the dreadful maths that has preceded it. I got everything right! :)

1st December 2002

The stats were magical; I understood them! I love too that my calculator works out the means and standard deviations so neatly on those little list things! So, I have just moved on to Chapter 9, which is on hypothesis testing. They start off the chapter with a little story about green-winged orchids and the ridge-and-furrow topography of the East Midlands - and it is statistics regarding this that we are to work on throughout the chapter. I have my ruler marking the page just where the null hypothesis starts. It's been there for 3 days - but I'll get back to it soon!

One guy on the conference suggests that the course should be renamed S666 because it's evil, evil, evil!! I go along with that mostly - except that it cannot be *that* evil if it is actually teaching me things that I never thought would ever happen! I'm still having problems with some of the more basic concepts though; like unit conversions, small angle approximations and those blasted 'different shape' graphs!

26th November 2002

I remember, at school, looking up logarithms in a book and either adding or subtracting the numbers so found in neat little sums. I don't know why we looked up the logs in a book, or why we either added or subtracted them. Likewise, I do not know why logs to base 10 exist!!! I can do the sums (if I follow carefully the worked examples), but am quite mystified by the whole thing. The imminent prospect of moving onto the stats is a magical thought, though I fear I'll become sunk in that too. (What am I doing?)

17th November 2002

I'm working hard and am now onto trigonometry, which is OK, apart from the radians!! (What do they mean??). And, you have to keep changing the blasted calculator between "radian" and "degrees". (But I do still love my calculator!). So that means that I've got to the end of the algebra AND got through the graphs! But I HATED the graphs as I hardly understood a thing! There were hardly any questions to answer either and I'm a "get down and do it" person, rather than a reader. Anyway, it didn't make sense! :) My plan is to go through the whole thing, answering all the questions in the book - and then to go back through all the supplementary questions before attempting, first, the practise assessment (of which I've had a quick look) and then the ECA proper. That's the plan. I shall probably have to go back to the graphs before that though - in order to complete the logarithms and the differentiation. D'uh. Sums is so much harder with the science added on. I wish I were just doing the sums. I didn't know I could do them! :)
malachi.jpg - 3214 BytesMalachi sung splendid tonight! :) "Starry, starry night .........." (445 kb)

12th November 2002

Oh, this was better! I had an hour and a half session this evening and came out flying (on algebra!). It went just a little wonky with the additions of K and J - but that's science - I can do the algebra!! They have the habit of (sometimes) giving the answers without showing any workings and it's always with the ones I have wrong - so very annoying. However, so pleased with a couple of my efforts tonight that I awarded myself gold stars with E's inside (for Einstein!)

A little more confident.
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11th November 2002

It was a bit of a haphazard day today ("another" new monitor; the fossil course stuff; rocks arrival; Christmas pressies) so, could that be the reason for my WALL which I encountered this afternoon? I'd been coming along so well - and now, suddenly *I Can't Do Anything*!! The end of chapter 3 has been a nightmare! I made it (so therefore get algebra next! :)) - but my worked questions were useless. Looking up the answers, and following that - I seem to (more or less) know how to do them, but my calculations are all wrong. How come? Method - I guess! Anyway, I'm glad to be rid of that - but it will only be a brief estrangement, as I know I shall have to return and do them again (and the supplementary questions.)

10th November 2002

calcbook.jpg - 6850 BytesI haven't done any work for the last couple of days - but, by the end of Friday, I had almost completed Chapter 3 - so am almost onto the Algebra! :) It's not easy - but a great challenge! On Friday, the OU book "Tapping into Mathematics with the TI-83" arrived and it certainly is much easier to understand than the manual!
Am whooping something silly, because I now realise that I shall be doing some calculus!!!!! The last Chapter (10) is Differentiation, which is, according to the glossary, calculus! So, "sums" indeed, Father! :) (I probably won't have a clue - but maybe some of the mystery will be put to rest?)

7th November 2002

maths book Seems that they sent out the course materials on 4th November - and I received them this morning! There is a big, thick course book (liberally sprinkled with Greek things - but also lots of drawings, thank goodness!) a couple supplementary question books, study guides, glossary and a CD-ROM. Well, I spent a couple hours on Chapter 1 this afternoon (which they say should take 9 hours). I completed that, including all the questions + all the supplementary questions - so a good start!!
Of course, it was fairly simple (fractions, powers, recipricals and roots), but didn't have *too* much in the way of problems - AND I worked out how to do these things on the TI 83 - so a pretty fruitful session. I've started Chapter 2 now - "Measurement in Science" which looks closely at Scientific Notation etc. Got the first few questions right anyway!

2nd November 2002

Well, the despatch info is on the website - but not until 13th November???

Course Materials Despatch

lilcalc.jpg - 4784 Bytes31st October 2002

Unfortunately, there is still no mention on despatches as to when the course materials will be sent - they simply state that materials should be received a week before the course commences. The FC conference will open on 9th November - so nearly time to get in and have some fun maths discussions! :) I have bought a new graphics calculator (TI 83) in time for this course, so I hope to goodness that somebody might give me hints as to how to use it. I'm really not sure about this background colour.