18 September 2022

Love Valley – Seeing is Believing

Love Valley in Cappadocia, Turkey certainly has a claim to fame – a very large one. Rather euphemistically named, the valley is home to rock structures that bear a passing resemblance to… well - make your own mind up. Seeing, as they say, is believing.

Cappadocia (Kapadokya in Turkish) is a region of exceptional natural wonders, none more so than the giant monuments left by Mother Nature in Love Valley. Situated in the very heart of modern day Turkey this natural wonder sits on a high plateau over a thousand meters in altitude. Rainfall is sparse in this area and the place has hot dry summers and bitterly cold snowy winters. There is little rainfall and so the region is generally arid. In this environment these huge phallic natural structures seems like some sort of ancient homage to male fertility. However, they are far from man-made despite the possible resemblance to manhood.

Moving Athens


Moving Athens is the latest in the series of Moving Cities filmed pieces created by Jevan Chowdhury where the inhabitants of cities around the world engage with their urban environment through the medium of dance. It serves as a reminded that despite its troubles, Greece still has so much to offer the world. And if still aren’t convinced take a look at our feature What have the Greeks ever done for us?

Three Guesses What This Might Be...

So, what do you think this is? It's called a bee hotel and more and more people are making or buying them in order to encourage solitary bees to use them to hibernate or as a place in which to lay an egg.  The reason is fairly simple- with bee numbers in decline in many places it is important to encourage the species that do not have hives ready made for them to continue to breed. Why? Solitary bees are often fifty times better pollinators than their honey producing hive living counterparts, so it's vital that their species persevere. For lots more great examples of bee hotels, buzz over to Ark in Space.

Image Credit Flickr User szczel

Watch an Amazing Botanical Mural as it Takes Shape


I always find art time-lapses fascinating not least because if you gave me a hundred years I would not be able to do anything close to the end product.  Here Lucila Dominuez creates a fantastic botanical mural over the space of five days in Buenos Ares.  It’s amazing to watch the process from start to finish and really makes me want to dash out and but some paint and brushes.  However, knowing what my end result would be like, I will defer that: I’m not in the mood to repent at leisure.

Frat


In a world in which the inhabitants are inexorably turning to stone one young boy has the ability to cure – but by sacrificing his own blood.  Yet the inhabitants of this world are as hard and unforgiving as the stone in to which they are turning.  Created by a group of students at ESMA in 2008 (Sebastien Durand , Aurélien Peis, Julien Limon and Cédric Trezeguet.) Frat remains an intriguing piece and has hardly aged despite the advances in animation technology.

One for the Road


If the world was going to end I think I might well head for the pub and have one for the road.  In this short film written and directed by Ben Chavda, one man decides to do just that.  It’s a great atmospheric piece and leaves you to fill in a lot of the detail yourself (which is perfect).  One slight criticism, however: if you head to the bar on your last day on the planet, the least you can do is drink!

11 September 2022

Incredible Crepuscular Rays - Sunbeams Caught on Camera


Sunbeams are everywhere – yet when they are caught on camera they are often unwanted additions to a photograph. They cut swathes through the picture, chopping off heads and obscuring detail in a burst of light. However, when they are deliberately captured the results can be nothing short of magical.

The Man Who Survived Two Atomic Bombs

Tsutomu Yamaguchi was, depending on your point of view either the luckiest man on Planet Earth or exactly the opposite. Either way, what happened to him in the August of 1945 is nothing short of amazing – and his survival miraculous.

Yamaguchi was a resident of Nagasaki but on the fateful day of 6 August 1945 he was in Hiroshima, on business for his employer, Mitsubishi. He was badly wounded when the bomb carried by Enola Gay exploded above Hiroshima but survived and returned to Nagasaki the next day.

Amazingly, he returned to work on August 9 – most of us in this day and age will take a day off work if we have a nosebleed, let alone get blown up by an atomic bomb. He was explaining the first bomb to his supervisor when Bocks Car flew over Nagasaki. The Fat Man atomic bomb was dropped on to the city and Tamaguchi became the victim of a second atomic blast. He was three kilometers away from Ground Zero but was not able to get treatment for the injuries he had received in Hiroshima – for obvious reasons.

He was recognised as a hibakashu (one of those affected by the explosions) but only of the Nagasaki bomb – he kept his remarkable story to himself for many years. The Japanese government finally recognised his presence in both cities in 2009. He died of stomach cancer in January 2010.

We may not have heard the last of Tsutomu Yamaguchi. Several months before his death he met the film director James Cameron (of Titanic and Avatar fame). It seems that the director is keen to shoot Yamaguchi’s story – and it certainly does deserve more exposure. Let’s just hope that Celine Dion doesn’t sing the theme music.

Dreams of the Last Butterflies


This almost defies definition but Dreams of the Last Butterflies is certainly this – something very special. Combining poetry, song, dance, and flame throwing among other things, this performance-film had me spellbound from start to finish.  It is a dark ‘faerie tale’ written and directed by Zina Brown and is told by the last of the butterfly queens (wonderfully –quite ravishingly - performed here by the actor-dancers).

The last of the queens tells the story of her many species, how one by one they are disappearing from the world because of human intervention.  Yet she is herself ultimately captured and the future of butterflies looks bleak…

Dreams of the Last Butterflies has wowed people at festivals across the world and has already won over ten awards. It was created in partnership with Saving Species.

Abaddon


If you enjoy our occasional forays in to dance here at Kuriositas then you are in for something of a treat.  This dark and atmospheric dance performance is Abaddon, a place of suffering, purification and sensuality.

It was written and directed by Rogerio Silva, choreographed and performed by Harriet Waghorn and Troy Savic with music by Alaskan Tapes.

Space Rocks


There are lots of names associated with all the rocks floating around in space so what is the difference, for example, between a meteor and a meteorite?  Fortunately we have the folks over at the Royal Observatory Greenwich (and if anyone knows, it should be them!) to simply and clearly explain which is which and what’s what in outer space (and occasionally, of course, down here on our own pale blue dot).

Retrofit


Retrofit is set in the near future when death is simply a new beginning; for those who can afford it. Dylan, driven by his need for reconciliation, brings his father back from the dead, and houses him in a shabby utility robot 'acquired’ from the black market. Having proceeded without his father's consent, the two must come to terms with their situations. The film was produced with the collaboration of various visual effects artists primarily focused in the UK.

The Scottish Fold – The Owl Cat

The Scottish Fold is something of a special breed of cat.  Seeing one for the first time you are drawn to its round facial features and, in the back of your mind, a thought nags you that something seems to be missing. Then you realize – it’s all about the ears.  Our sibling site, the Ark in Space, has the story of this owl cat extraordinaire with, as you might expect, lots of fantastic photos.

Image Credit

4 September 2022

Re-booting my Brain to Give Feedback in Further Education

One thing often leads to another. A TES article from February – “Does marking really boost student motivation?” – is currently trending again. No surprise, I guess, as the new academic year is starting and teachers are already, no doubt, beginning to dread the marking that will go with it.

I think the "takeaway" here for me is the elements of the article about feedback. Yes, marking is feedback, it argues, but surely a few words of praise will stay with a learner a lot longer. I couldn’t agree more. Last year, I committed myself to being more conscious of the feedback I gave and the manner in which it was given - this was to ensure that all learners received some kind of feedback from me in any given class. Now, at the start of the new academic year, I feel my brain needs a little re-boot to get back into the zone, as it were. So here are my re-boot thoughts for giving feedback in a Further Education environment. However, I hope it’s just as relevant to teachers in primary, secondary or tertiary education.

Teach the students about feedback
I always include a section about feedback for students in the course handbook which is given to them in their induction week. It outlines for them some of the forms feedback can take outside of the context of written marking. When observers ask students what kind of feedback they get in a class, it's often met with blank stares as students, like us, often primarily associate feedback with written teacher comments. This could become an issue as most FE college have now adopted the Ofsted model of observation where, at a certain point, teachers may be asked to leave the classroom to enable the observer to question the class about their course and their progress. Feedback will come up if your students are questioned.
Amung Feedjit
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