Day 226 and 227: Great presence, bad science
Trip Start Nov 11, 2009
273Trip End Ongoing
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Dton Ooi, Au and Ploy were up there and ready with the rest of the presentation (which I hadn't seen yet). The level of grammar and syntax was not perfect but who ever had translated it had done a pretty decent job, I made only a few minor changes to make it read a little better; I also rewrote the conclusion because it contained no hint of anything like a qualititive result (no stats, no figures, nothing!) Here comes the science bit:
The scientific method they used was somewhat dubious and their conclusions (that Carbon Dioxide was reduced by the filters) were based largely around the colour of the smoke which was emitted (a factor that is mor to do with particulates than gases). In fact it is the clacium hydroxide which creates solid deposits when it reacts with CO2 and - according to their report - the same quantity was observed in both the filter and non filter experiments (and that quantity was 'some'). When I asked them how much CO2 was reduced by, they confidently told me that it was 80% but (of course) they couldn't tell me why. In the end I had them say that less deposits were observed the second time and that they could determine the reduction by filtration in a further experiment but they estimated the reduction to be around 80%. This was the best I could do with the car crash that was their results section. In many ways I wish I had been more involved with the experiment itself but I understood so little of what was going on when I did go that it seemed pointless (and when I mentioned things like the fact that the pipe didn't go into the CaOH solution I was smiled at politely). One thing that it most certainly has done though is give the students a reasonable conceptual knowledge of the theory involved and this at least will stand them in good stead for the competition I hope.
We also had some difficulty beause we believed that we had only 5 minutes which was going to take some fairly major re-editing as the shortest we could perform it was 6:30.
Over lunch I sat and re-wrote the entire thing and made it (I hoped) short enough to come in under time; we never got to find out however because Niu came up and told us that, "No, in fact you have 10 minutes including questions." so two of the girls (having already memorised their pieces) stuck with the original script.
Despite this the girls were soon reading very well and although there were some recurring pronunciation glitches (Dton Ooi in particular has trouble with d's t's and s's) they were almost fully comprehensible. We also covered some of the questions they may get asked. I tried to prep them for the responses as best I could by getting thme to understand so they could reply in their own words (understanding wasn't a problem - but remembering seemed to be. I can't imagne having to give a scientific presentation in Thai however).
I left early at about 1500 and made my way into town to replace my ATM card. After this I was riding back to get some snacks and saw JOhnny outside his shop so I stopped for a quick chat - and ended up staying for most of the evening (partially due to the rain which was almost constant tonight).
Tuesday: I was expecting a similar day today but in the end I got virtually no chance to continue practicing with the girls because they were running around putting teh finisheing touches on teh report which, among other things, included finding some references - and yes, I do mean actually finding information on line to support their theory; for those who think that maybe this was the sort of thing that you do before the project... well... not here!
While helping them with this we came across the concept of 'Active Carbon' which they clearly hadn't been introduced to; essentially it means increasing the surface area of the charcoal so that more odours can be trapped, it is a more or less essential for effective carbon filtration (I learned all of this in about 5 minutes and wondered about their research techniquie - this is not just a language thing as most of this project was done in THai before it was done in English). Bamboo charcoal would have been a passable natural subsitiute in the absence of real activated carbn - but unfortunately they hadn't used that either so I just had to tell them to be ready to admit these shortcomings candidly if questioned and hope that none of the judges were that knowledgable on the subject of carbon filtration.
About 1300 we were scheduled to go for a full rehearsal in the big hall. I thought that this was just a 'dress rehearsal' type event but in fact there were visitors there from the Thai ministry of education (nice of someone to tell me this) and the whole thing was rather more official. The girls did very well and I pointed out a few bits and pieces to sharpen up on afterwards (while taking care to reinforce how good it was)
I will cut the day short there. I went home about 1700 having also done some prep on my MId terms. I spent much of the evening in front of the computer. I did drop Kym a text to see what he was up to but he was teaching at his shop and was beat by the end so we tabled our reunion for school the next day. We were leaving for Mahasarakham about 0900.