Day: September 9, 2013

Monday, 9 September 2013

10:37 – I’m still busy building science kits and processing orders. We were able, barely, to keep up with demand in August. We managed to ship every order without any delay. This month will be a bit easier because demand, while still high, is lower than August, when most homeschoolers are ordering stuff for the fall semester.

I’m also putting some serious thought into designing “middle school” science kits. The normal progression is “life science” (biology light) in grade 6 or 7, followed by “earth and space science”, followed by “physical science” (chemistry lite + physics lite). I don’t have a high opinion of that sequence, because I think it wastes two years of science. I think that by the end of grade 7, students should already have a good handle on the fundamentals of science, and starting in grade 8 they should begin with real “high school level” courses. High-school level earth (geology) and space science (astronomy) in grade 8, chemistry in grade 9, biology in grade 10, physics and/or an advanced biology/chemistry course in grade 11, and one or two advanced biology/chemistry/physics courses in grade 12. If I had a bright student who was destined to major in STEM, I’d devote 40% of class time from grade 8 onward to science courses–with at least half of that lab and other hands-on activities–25% to math courses, and fit the rest into the remaining 35%. I’d also have school running eight hours a day Monday through Friday, with a couple hours of homework in the evenings, and half a day on Saturdays. And I’d run it year-round, with three or four one- or two-week breaks over the course of the year.

12:39 – Brussels fears European ‘industrial massacre’ sparked by energy costs

Quixotic, indeed. With electricity costs typically twice to three times those in the US and natural gas costs four or more times those in the US, Europe can no longer compete industrially with the US and Canada. Of course, neither can Asia, nor indeed anywhere else in the world. This is already obvious in the chemical industry, where feedstock and energy costs are a major portion of total costs. Everyone is busy building new chemical plants in the US and Canada and closing down ones elsewhere. But it’s not just chemical plants. Nearly all manufacturing is heavily energy-dependent, which gives the US and Canada a huge and sustained advantage over the rest of the world. Meanwhile, Europe insists on repeatedly shooting itself in its collective feet by wasting huge subsidies on “sustainable” energy. I mean, off-shore windmills, for Thor’s sake? What idiot decided that? Germany abandoned nuclear after Fukushima, and it and the rest of the EU are busy passing “green” taxes that further hamper the ability of European manufacturers to compete. And in the one renewable-energy technology that may actually make long-term sense, solar, Europe is nowhere.

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