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Are you ready for SM123?
Are you ready for SM123?
This online activity should take you about two hours to complete.
Before you begin the module, we would like you to consider very carefully whether you are ready to study SM123.
Many of you will have already studied with the Open University before, on modules such as S111. To enjoy the module, there are some basic skills that you should be sure of before you study this module. But the most important thing you will need is time. SM123 will take about 10 hours of your time each week and runs from October to June. Think very carefully about how you will fit the time needed to study this module into your life.
Please take the time to work through this Are you ready for SM123? including the two quizzes on Understanding Science and Maths Skills. Please attempt all of the questions as this will help you assess whether you have the skills ready to start the module.
What you will be doing
This activity will help you find out whether you are ready to study SM123. It covers six areas.
 The Understanding Science quiz will ask you about the science you already know.
 The Maths Skills quiz will help you decide whether you have the maths skills needed.
 SM123 introduces computer programming. If you wish to get started on learning this now, there are resources to help you.
 One thing to bear in mind is this module is completely online. Do you have the study skills to do this?
 It may also be a while since you have written anything. Do you have the necessary writing skills?
 Do you have the time to study this module and can you manage your time well?
1 Understanding Science Quiz
If you are familiar with some of these key ideas before you start SM123 it will really help you. Try the following selfassessment questions to find out how much you already know.
Advice before you start
Some of the topics in this quiz may be unfamiliar to you – if so, don’t worry. The whole point of this quiz is for you to have a go at answering each question and trying to solve them based on your current knowledge. It’s also trying to tease out your ability to work with information presented in different ways (text, figures, tables and equations etc.) so that you can assess for yourself how ready you are to start on SM123. There is some information in Part 7 to help you make that assessment. Don’t forget that if you have any concerns you can speak with one of our friendly advisers (details are given at the end of Part 7). If you are an existing student you can speak with an adviser from your Student Support Team (details can be found on your StudentHome).
a.
milli, micro, nano, giga, mega, kilo
b.
giga, mega, kilo, milli, micro, nano
c.
nano, micro, milli, kilo, mega, giga
d.
nano, micro, milli, giga, mega, kilo
The correct answer is c.
c.
Nano means a billionth; micro a millionth; milli a thousandth; kilo one thousand; mega one million and giga one billion
a.
£/kg
b.
kg/£
c.
£
d.
kg
The correct answer is a.
a.
The units for the price per unit mass are obtained by dividing the units for the money (£) by the units for the mass (kg) so the units are £ per kg or £/kg.
Question 3
a.
There is not enough space between the atoms making up the surface of the Earth.
b.
The surface of the Earth exerts a force on you that is greater than the force you exert on the Earth.
c.
The surface of the Earth exerts a force on you that is equal to the force you exert on the Earth.
The correct answer is c.
c.
The surface of the Earth exerts a force on you that is equal to the force you exert on the Earth. If the Earth exerted a force greater than the one you exert on the Earth you would be pushed upwards.
a.
hydrogen absorbs all wavelengths of white light
b.
hydrogen does not absorb any wavelengths of the white light
c.
hydrogen absorbs green and yellow light
d.
hydrogen absorbs red and blue light.
The correct answer is d.
d.
The black lines reveal the wavelengths that are missing when the light travels through hydrogen, so hydrogen must have absorbed them. These lines are in the red, blue and violet regions of the spectrum.
Question 6
Using only the following information, how many electrons are there in a sodium atom?
Answer
The atomic number is the number of protons in the nucleus of an atom. Atoms are neutrally charged, so the number of negatively charged electrons is equal to the number of positively charged protons. Sodium has an atomic number of 11 so the number of protons and therefore electrons in a sodium atom is 11.
a.
b.
H^{+} Cl^{−}
c.
H–Cl
The correct answer is c.
2 Maths Skills
Basic mathematical skills of addition, subtraction, division and multiplication are required for this module plus the following ideas;
 Understanding scale and changing units of measurement
Units look at the scale of something. The metre (m) and the kilogram (kg) are units of measurement we use in our everyday lives. In this module, you will also come across units measuring the very small, from the size of an atom and subatomic particles, to the very large, the size of the Sun, stars and galaxies.
For very big or very small numbers it is often more appropriate to change the units of measurement, to something that is more easily understood.
Can you convert different units of measurement? For example millimetre (mm) to kilometre (km).
 Understanding percentages
A percentage is a way of saying “how many out of one hundred”, e.g.
They are also used to look at how values change, a percentage increase or decrease compared with the original value.
 Understanding areas and volumes
Are you able to calculate the areas or volumes of different shapes?
 Understanding equations
An equation is a mathematical statement where both sides must be balanced. The values either side of an equals sign must be the same.
Are you able to rearrange equations so you can work out the unknown variable?
 Understanding very large or small numbers
It often gets confusing writing out all those zeros in big and small numbers. Do you understand the idea of the powers of 10 notation for very big or small numbers?
The distance from the Earth to the Sun is about 150 000 000 km or 1.5 × 10^{8 }km.
The size of a hydrogen atom is about 0.000 000 000 1 m or 1 × 10^{10 } m.
A positive power of ten denotes how many times a number is multiplied by 10 while a negative power of ten denotes how many times a number is divided by 10.
 Handling data
Can you collect information (or data)? Work out what it is telling you? And show it to someone else?
2.1 Maths quiz
Question 1
The price of a cup of coffee increases from £2.00 to £2.30.
Question 2
Question 3
a.
1 significant figure
b.
2 significant figures
c.
3 significant figures
d.
the number of significant figures doesnt matter.
The correct answer is b.
b.
Each number is quoted to two significant figures so the answer should also be quoted to two significant figures.
Question 5
Question 6
Rearrange the following equation so that B is the subject. A = BC
A = BC
Answer
The answer is
To rearrange A = BC to make B the subject, both sides of the equation are divided by C. This cancels out the C on the right hand side leaving just B and on the left hand side.
Question 7
Question 8
a.
J s
b.
c.
The correct answer is b.
Question 10
Look at the following table of data and identify the dependent and independent variables.
Month  Sales (1000s)  Advertising Pounds (1000s) 

January  100  5.5 
February  110  5.8 
March  112  6 
April  115  5.9 
May  117  6.2 
June  116  6.3 
July  118  6.5 
August  120  6.6 
September  121  6.4 
October  120  6.5 
November  117  6.7 
December  123  6.8 
Using the following two lists, match each numbered item with the correct letter.

Sales

Advertising Pounds
a.Independent variable
b.Dependent variable
 1 = b
 2 = a
Answer
‘Sales’ is the dependent variable as it is being used to measure the effect of the independent variable, the advertising spend.
‘Advertising Pounds’ is the independent variable as it is the variable that is being investigated.
a.
between 19751980
b.
between 19851990
c.
between 19952000
d.
between 20052010
The correct answer is c.
3 Computer programming
SM123 will introduce you to computer programming using the Python programming language. You are not expected to have any previous knowledge of computer programming in order to begin studying SM123. However, if you wish to get a head start on this aspect of the module, you should take a look at the free Open Learn course “Simple Coding” which is available here: https://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ digitalcomputing/ simplecoding/ contentsection0?activetab=descriptiontab This course is designed to take 2 hours of study and mirrors much of what you will encounter during your first week of Python study in SM123.
4 Online Study
One thing to bear in mind is this module is completely online. For some of you this maybe a completely new way of studying. Do you have the study skills to do this?
Effective reading and notemaking
As all the study material is online, you might have to think about developing new study skills for an online module and also think about when you need to be online to complete activities or questions within the topic. If you have already studied an online module with the Open University before (such as S111) or a module with some online materials (such as MST124), SM123 will further develop your online study skills.
Effective reading and notemaking is a key skill you need. Reading and making notes should be an active and creative process. Your goal is to have a useful and memorable set of notes that that is easy to refer to and improves your learning.
Notetaking techniques
Go to the study guide on different notetaking techniques and complete the activity to explore the techniques that suit you:
(To view the videos, existing OU students will need to be logged on.)
Discussion
You will also find lots of useful advice and guidance for studying online in the Study skills for online learning section of the Help Centre (https://help.open.ac.uk/ topic/ studyskills/ category/ studyskillsforonlinelearning). We recommend that you take some time now to review this.
5 Writing skills
It may also be a while since you have written anything. Do you have the necessary writing skills?
English for OU study
Complete the following writing activity:
English for OU study writing activity: http://www2.open.ac.uk/ students/ skillsforstudy/ english/ index.php?pid=22
Discussion
If you found this activity easy you should have the necessary writing skills required to start on SM123. As the module progresses your tutor will assist you further with your writing skills through feedback on your tutormarked assignment (TMA). That is one reason why it is important to submit your assignments and pay close attention to the feedback you receive. If you feel you need further help with your writing skills before starting on SM123 we recommend that you take a look through the Skills for study section on OpenLearn (http://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ skillsforstudy). In particular the free badged open module English: skills for learning (http://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ educationdevelopment/ englishskillslearning/ contentsectionoverview) contains a wealth of useful guidance to help develop reading and writing skills in order to tackle university assignments.
6 Time management
How many hours a week do you work? Or do you have caring responsibilities? Everyone is different.
Plan out an average week as a simple table with days along the top and hourly timeslots along the side. You can do this on paper, using word processing software or a spreadsheet. (There is a useful time management spreadsheet as part of the Are you ready for S111? which you may download from http://www.open.edu/ openlearncreate/ mod/ resource/ view.php?id=79339 and use. Existing OU students can use the online time planner, too.https://help.open.ac.uk/ planyourtime Think carefully about the time you have available for study. Be realistic and allow time for any commitments such as work, family or caring responsibilities, plus downtime for yourself (don’t forget that you need to eat and sleep!).
Managing your study time
SM123 will take about 10 hours of your time each week and officially runs from October to June. Do you have the time to study for nine months?
Can you manage your time well and organise the time you have for study? If you have studied with the OU before, how well did you organise your time? Have a look at the following activity:
Timemanagement skills: https://help.open.ac.uk/ timemanagementskills
7 What to do next?
Having now completed this Are You Ready for SM123? resource, you should now be in a position to judge how prepared you feel to start SM123.
Begin by reflecting on your answers to the Understanding Science and Maths Skills quizzes. Feedback was given as you went along. (You can go back and reattempt these questions at any time.) There are no formal marks or a score system, however if you answered most of these questions correctly on the first go then you should be well prepared academically to start on SM123. The module will help you build on these skills as you progress towards science studies at higher levels.
Don’t forget to consider the important advice on online study (Section 3), writing skills (Section 4) and time management (Section 5) when assessing your preparedness.
In deciding what to do next, you may find it helpful to reflect on the following question and the advice that follows.
How ready do you feel to start SM123?
 Very ready – Great you have all the skills necessary to start this module, register now if you haven’t already!
 Reasonably ready – but want to know more before it starts.
If you would like to brush up on your science skills before you start SM123 then there are many modules on Open Learn you may want to have a look at. For example, the physics page on Open Learn Physics (www.open.edu/ openlearn/ sciencemathstechnology/ science/ physicsandastronomy/ physics) has many activities and videos you might want to explore.
 Not sure – think about which of the five areas on this ‘Are you ready for…’ that you are unsure about.
Are you unsure about the science you already know or your maths skills?
There are many modules on Open Learn you can have a look at if you are uncertain. For example,
Basic science: understanding numbers (http://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ sciencemathstechnology/ basicscienceunderstandingnumbers/ contentsectionoverview) may be useful if it has been a little while since you studied any maths, to brush up on the basic maths skills needed for SM123.
Another useful resource is the Maths skills study booklet (https://www.open.edu/ openlearn/ sciencemathstechnology/ mathematicsstatistics/ mathsskillsscience). You might want to focus on Chapter 5; Units of measurement, Chapter 7; Scientific notation or Chapter 9; Significant figures, if you found these areas more difficult in the Maths quiz.
If you are you unsure because the module is completely online and/or it has been a while since you did any writing
There are many resources you can access that can help you with online study skills and writing skills before you start SM123.
The OU’s study skills website contains useful tips for studying online such as Study tips for online modules (https://help.open.ac.uk/ studytipsforonlinemodules). There are also specific tips on Making notes online (https://help.open.ac.uk/ makingnotesonline) and Active reading (https://help.open.ac.uk/ activereading). Learn Higher also offer a freetodownload mind map of Top ten notemaking tips (http://www.learnhigher.ac.uk/ researchskills/ notemaking/ notemakingtentoptips/).
If you want to improve your writing skills, then you could follow the Developing Academic English Guide (https://help.open.ac.uk/ developingacademicenglish) (it will take about 5 hours to complete).
You don’t think you have the time to study this module
If you don’t think you have the time to study, start by reviewing your responses to the ‘Managing your study time’ activity in Part 5. Although 10 hours per week can seem like a lot of time to find to study, it is surprising how quickly small chunks of time add up. With SM123 being an online only module you will have easy access to your study materials wherever you have an internet connection. So you may find that you can fit in some study on the go, such as during lunch breaks or whilst commuting. Most of your available time for study though is likely to come in blocks such as evenings or weekends. This is particularly important for larger activities in SM123 such as practical work. Be honest with yourself about how much time you can devote to studying. You may find that it helps to talk through your study intentions and time available with one of our advisers. Details of how to contact an adviser are given below.
If you really don’t think you have the time to study now, and decide not to register for SM123, bear in mind that the time you have available for study may change in the future. So you may like to run through this ‘Are you ready for SM123?’ guidance again and/or speak with one of our friendly advisers about returning to formal study. In the meantime, we offer a range of informal study options that require less time commitment, such as free modules on OpenLearn (http://www.open.edu/ openlearn/).
If you’re not sure SM123 is the right module for you
Whatever the reason, if you really are unsure about studying SM123 you may find that it helps to speak with one of our friendly advisers. They’re there to help and can talk through any concerns or questions you may have. After doing so, if you are still unsure, then SM123 is probably not for you at this time.
Call us
Don’t forget that you can speak to one of our friendly advisers on 0300 303 5303 (Monday to Friday 8am to 8pm, Saturday 9am to 5pm UK Time Excluding Bank Holidays) if you have any questions about the module or your preparedness.
If you are an existing Open University student you can contact an adviser at your Student Support Team using the contact details that you will find on StudentHome.
Acknowledgements
Grateful acknowledgement is made to the following sources:
Figure 1: From Jason Knows Science. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence https://creativecommons.org/ licenses/ by/ 3.0/.
Figure 3: https://www.carbonbrief.org. This file is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution Licence Creative Commons — AttributionNonCommercialNoDerivatives 4.0 International — CC BYNCND 4.0.
Table 1: Adapted from Columbia University.