Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Tales from my students

I felt like I needed a somewhat more light-hearted post than my last rant, so I thought I'd relate a couple of stories from my morning classes today.

In my first class, we played "2 Truths and a Lie" and it was up to my student to come up with 3 stories about herself and see if I could work out which was the lie. The outcome is irrelevant to this story (though I guessed correctly), but one of her claims was that she used to teach "Fluid Mechanics". Having been taught in my old job always to "trade test", I said "Fine, so give me a brief lesson in Fluid Mechanics." And she did! Not exactly a brief lesson either. All I can say is that in 20 minutes, she made me understand things that several years of maths/physics/chemistry lessons had failed to do! I can now tell you that a particle of water has a specific weight of 1 gram per cm³, oil is the lightest at 0.8g per cm³, and mercury is heaviest at 1.3g per cm³. And that in order to work out the total energy of one particle of water you need the following equation: H = h + v²/2g + P/γ (H = total energy, h = height, v = velocity, P = pressure, γ = specific weight of the relevant liquid). So basically, the higher a drop of water falls from, the more energy it has! This, she explained, is necessary in order to work out how high to build a hydro-electric dam so that when the water hits the turbine at the bottom, it creates enough energy to actually work! Clear now? Good. Cos I'll be testing you later.

The second story is a touch more disturbing. One of my students flew to Tenerife with 10 friends for Carnaval weekend. As I'm sure you all know, THE thing to do at Carnaval (apart from drinking and not sleeping) is to don fancy dress. The group of friends in question had decided that on the 2nd night they would dress as cowgirls. They had jeans, boots, ten-gallon hats, checked shirts and toy guns. All of these were bought in advance. Now you may remember I said they flew to Tenerife. None of them had checked-in luggage so when they hit security, imagine the fuss when their luggage was found to contain around 17 toy guns. The airport police threw them straight into prison  listened to their lovely explanation about the fancy dress party and let them board the aircraft with said guns in their bags! As if this weren't shocking enough, when they returned from Tenerife, they went through airport security with the exact same items and were thrown straight into prison no-one even noticed. Their bags went through the X-ray machines, out the other side and they were on their way! Yes, I know they were toy guns. Yes, I know you can't kill anyone with them, but as the police pointed out (before letting them continue!) if they pulled one out on the plane and started waving it around, who was going to know it was only a toy? One for the national press, if you ask me!

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