Lower Kent Ridge – Buona Vista Road widening?

People measuring months ago, then machinery appears, some wayside trees removed, others tagged to remains, margins cleared, next what, I ask myself each time I pass by. Road widening to relieve peak hour jams? We’ll see.

Meanwhile in the corridor, some cupboards appear. Seminar Rooms 3 and 4 will give way to labs and froggy and forest people are coming to enjoy the scenery of Fusionpolis at night.

My room will be more secure and I will no longer hear seminar audiences troop in and out. Their space was all part of the old Zoo Lab 6, so it is a return to its original role, albeit from teaching to research. And the walls will have windows open to the ridge once again!

Bambino’s gone

Bambino’s is gone from the Faculty of Science canteen in NUS. It was the first of non-typical canteen fare in an NUS canteen and setup by a couple of SHATEC grads in the 90’s. It wasn’t the same when they sold off the stall. It became better known for its tasteless fare and we never could figure out how it survived for so long. If you were ever in a hurry before a tough field trip, though, it was a great stall for carbo-loading.

Well its gone and a steamed soup stall is in its place. Not for me so it was an anti-climax. In the meantime, the Japanese stall has changed.

You know I was really just trying out Imagewell

Teaching schedule next semester

Mr Bats checking out my teaching schedule for 2008/9 Semester I, which has just about been confirmed to be:

  • Mon 2-6pm: Lab 7 (LSM3251 Ecology practical; even weeks)
  • Tue 8-10am: LT20 (LSM3251 Ecology)
  • Tue 4-6pm: LT26 (LSM1103 Biodiversity)
  • Wed 10am-2pm: S2-0411 (LSM4261 Marine Biology)
  • Thu 10am – 12pm: LT20 (LSM3261 Zoology)
  • Thu 2-6pm: Lab 7 (LSM3261 Zoology practical; odd weeks)
  • Fri 2-6pm: Lab 7 (LSM1103 Biodiversity practical)

95 drive-bys outside University Hall

The absence of the SBS bus No. 95 is a bother on most days. After exam invigilation, its tiring. Students pour out of exam halls and the buses are few and far between. By the time it reaches University Hall, the buses are so full they just drive by.

I had reached department by 7.30pm after script verification, dumped everything and grabbed my new load of scripts and high-tailed it out of there. I was actually eager to get back to recapture my momentum of the morning’s marking. After 20 mins, I was drenched in perspiration from the humidity of the still air and left with the ominous feeling that the situation was not going to improve. So I SMSed Ladybug for SBS’ IRIS data. The reply said “7 mins more.” And 7 minutes later, I watched yet another student-filled 95 breeze by.

At 8pm, some admin staff emerged from University Hall. They’ve probably seen it all before and immediately started calling for cabs. But most cabs in the vicinity were already booked. Labour Day eve compounded the usual problem. So everyone waited, although I am sure most felt the next 95 would be a drive-by too.

So I gave in and called for rescue – Ladybug came before the bus in a borrowed car. We grabbed three others from the bus stop – one lady in particular had been waiting far longer than me, for more than an hour. She looked pretty far gone, and I found out she had been spring cleaning all day today. She’s from my department.

I felt guilty about the rest we had abandoned but wished on them an empty 95.

I went home and cooked. Will resume marking tomorrow.

CPR and AED familiarisation


Last Wednesday I attended a CPR and AED familiarisation course at NUS’ SRC Dance Studio. I went partly to decide if it should be suggested to the biodiversity group.

The relative incompetence of the class (myself included) dissipated during the two hours spent on CPR and AED. The 30 mins of practical training with a mannequin and AED device helped considerably and the fact everyne was serious. There was one joker who probably felt awkward about the drills but my group simply ignored him and kept their focus.

The practise sessions were conducted in small groups at a 1:5 ratio due to instructors from OSHE, Wellness and a few other places. It made for a modest but effective session with all objectives achieved.

While this was definitely not a first aid course the two hour session equips individuals to provide proper CPR assistance to family or lab members – correct administration of CPR pushes blood to the brain in lieu of a pumping heart and improves the chances of victim survival. Furthermore the supportive role of AED is clarified to the class as it does not replace CPR. The person conducting CPR really needs to stay focused until the AED is setup, and the patient prepared before the AED users informs him its setup. Improper use or knowledge may impede assistance and possibly even contribute problems so even this short training is critical.

Bondi lifeguards apply CPR and use the AED – the whole sequence right to recovery position.
And what a relief when they say, “It’s okay mate…” and Takahiro Ono remembers his name!
Taken from Bondi Rescue Series 1, Ep 4 (2006) and Australian Screen’s Teacher’s Notes.

I recall Keropokman went for an AED introductory session last November. That was not enough so he needs to go for a session like this one :-). Just like we intend for the staff and graduate students in the biodiversity group to attend this as well.

Collectively the instructors who conduct the training are able to effectively answer all the queries posed, which were certainly varied! Doesn’t the plastic suffocate the patient? Sessions are comfortably conducted at the SRC Dance Studio, opposite YIH in groups of 20. NUS staff can book a session through this webpage. You’ll find yourself much more confident after.

There have been two casualties of heart failure of some sort in NUS last year. One to whom first aid was applied but it was just his time, and another who did not receive any CPR assistance. We regret their loss and the CPR and AED course is one step in improving the capability of colleagues.

The AED unit near my block is located in the loading bay between S2 and S1A.

In the video above, it was lucky the lifeguards all happened to be nearby; it’s used for teaching in many schools now, including this NUS course! For further inspiration, read about our own Esther Tan: “Student saves heart attack man in Holland Road,” by Ong Rui Lin. The Electric New Paper, 26th February 2006. ‘I was still shaking back in school’. And see “When Hearts Stop: CPR & Defibrillators”.

Dealing with stress

NUS’ Counselling Centre highlights their Exam Anxiety webpage in the weeks leading to the exams.

Besides the peak period focus, students under excessive stress aren’t out my mind the rest of the semester. I adopt strategies in each module, integrate those into the teaching. A balance has to be struck with module standards but it is usually complimentary.

To maintain my awareness and alertness, I talk to teacher-friends armed with case study histories, discuss some aspects with friends on my mailing lists, reflect on past incidents and read some journal papers. This helps me to maintain an appreciative grasp of the issue over the years. Now that I actually have time to prepare my teaching, I want to consult the pros!

So after the Faculty of Science workshop, “Teaching is OUR Priority” last Friday, I way-layed the Counseling Centre’s head for a quick chat. I will drop in after clearing the exams so examine strategies and get advice about those and profiles. I am certainly looking forward to the consult – my previous session was a long time ago at Changi Village after a Pedal Ubin ride. One of the staff attended the ride and I ran a bunch of stuff by him – the benefits of being a guide!

It’s important to think about and review pre-emptive measures every year, just as we should do for fire and field safety. And you have to try look for loopholes. I find that exercise useful for teaching methods as well. Since I have field safety guidelines to pen, May is going to be safety month!

See “Struggles of Students Today,” by Ann-Marie Lew. Alumnus, Apr 2007.

Exhausting week, too tired to blog

I have been hunting down students, marking and processing marks for the past two weeks. Did what I could and my Reading Week schedule went out the window; good lesson though. It’s all over now and boy oh boy, was excel useful! I updated the post about excel functions I use to check marks and will provide it with figures as a webpage for the TAs. I will be getting them to use the gradebook functions built into NUS’ web-based IVLE system.

Am now dealing with the last of student queries via MSN; setup a live.com account for that. Still have the honours theses to examine this weekend. Hopefully I finish that before the exams begin on Monday. I am actually looking forward to marking exam papers to make comparisons after the changes in teaching methods I applied this semester.

Meanwhile, the exam invigilation reminders have turned up at the entrance of the department office. This announces the final and critical leg of the semester. Laurence used to present them like performance billings but I guess he’s too busy mopping up coffee to get fancy. At least he kept the colour, very useful. Its a good reason to drop by the department office every now and then. You can keep track of breaking news!

The notice reminded me of the stress our students must be under so I I SMS-ed cheery greetings to my research students and Toddycats project managers – I had their numbers in my handphone and ssw their replies come in thick and fast!

Thankfully, back at home, Mr Bats has been keeping me company during my marking processing and student hunting phase. He will reprise that role next week.


Sometimes he crawls in to a nice comfortable bag and territorially swipes at my hand when it ventures too close his “cave door”…