Drama TDT: Writing in Role.

For the Drama TDT, I have decided to choose the writing in role. I will be taking on the role of a book.

The cover of the book is red with intriguing green eyes and full lips. The book is a gentle character, longing to be picked up by a student and taken away from the dark, dusty depths of the library shelves. The book never moves from its spot on the shelf and stays silent, waiting for their opportunity.

I’ve lived here for a long time. In the depths of the library shelves. It was dark and dusty. All the books around me had been long abandoned, spending years waiting to see daylight again. I hoped my fate was not the same as there’s.

The lights rarely came on in this section, as no one ever seemed to walk past. Any time someone came by, I’d hold my breath hoping it was my turn to be picked. Usually it was just a library worker putting other books back. Every time, I would feel just as disappointed. 

Another day sat on the shelves, longing to be picked. I heard foot steps coming closer to where I was sat. I presumed it was a worker as usual, coming to put some books back. However, this time, it was different. I had a peek to see if I could see who was coming. I recognised all the workers now, from all the time spent in here, yet I didn’t recognise this person . It looked as if they were heading towards me! I kept very still and quiet. I could feel my heart pounding inside me. Was this finally going to be my chance? I closed my eyes as I didn’t want to be disappointed once again.

The next thing I knew, I was being lifted from the shelf. I felt the dust being blown off me. I opened my eyes and looked back at this stranger. “Ah this is the one!” they exclaimed. Finally, I had been picked out from the thousands of other books surrounding me. It was now my chance to experience the world outside!

Art TDT: Architecture and the Urban Environment

I have decided to look at Steeple Church/St. Mary’s Church, located in the centre of Dundee. The construction of this Church would have taken a lot of careful planning, as it has some very intricate details. The exterior of the building shows great detail, especially in the windows. The building is very large, which would allow it to hold many people. This is good for its purpose, as events such as weddings, communions and mass will be held here. These events often involve large amounts of people; therefore, the Church would need to be big enough to accommodate these reasons.

The church looks as if it is made of stone, with glass windows and a large tower. It appears that the windows are not stained glass, as no colour or designs can be seen from looking at the building externally. This is unusual to me as most churches that I have visited had some form of stained-glass windows. The budget when the church was originally built may not been large enough to accommodate stained glass windows. Another reason could be that it simply did not go with the aesthetic of the church at the time.

Another interesting feature about this church is that it actually has two congregations within the same structure. On the left side is Steeple Church and on the right side is St. Mary’s Church. It is interesting that one building is used for two separate churches, instead of a different church being built. This is effective and did not waste any time or money from planning and building a new church.

The church is a contrast to its surrounding, as they are mostly modern. The centre of Dundee has changed many times over the years, with many buildings coming and going, but the church has always remained. It can be seen that The Overgate was built to accommodate the church, visibly curving around it. This allows the church to stand out from its surroundings, making it the focal point of the area, especially with its beautifully designed exterior.

Dance TDT: Dance a Story

For the Dance TDT, I have decided to create a dance lesson based on the book “The Hungry Caterpillar”.

The outcome for this lesson is:

EXA 0-08a – I have the opportunity and freedom to choose and explore ways that I can move rhythmically, expressively and playfully.

We will start with a ‘copy me’ warm up. Inserted above is the music to be played during this. Standing in a circle, I will begin by doing different moves to the music (stamping feet, swinging arms, jumping etc.) before allowing the children to get involved by choosing people around the circle to be the leader.

Once the class is warmed up, we will move onto the story. Explain to the class that we are going to be acting out a story through dance. In this specific story, we are going to be the Hungry Caterpillar, acting out its actions from the book.

[Above music will be playing for this part] Start off on the floor, curled up in a ball as if we are in our egg. When the caterpillar bursts out of the egg, when stand up stretching and yawning as if we have just woken up. When our stomach rumbles, we rub our stomachs.

[Above music will be playing for this part] Now that we are hungry, we will go on the search for some food. Walking around the room looking as if we are searching for something, until we find a big apple! Music stops and we pretend to munch on our newly found food. Music comes back on and we search around for more food as we are still hungry. Repeat this for each day of the week.

[Above music will be playing for this part] When the food is being listed off, we will continuously pretend to eat, making sure to loudly say “mmmm”. Once the list is finished, rub our stomachs and have a pained expression on our faces, due to the stomach ache from eating so much. Walk around pretending to be a large caterpillar, seeing how big we can make ourselves look.

[Above music will be playing for this part] Slowing our walk down, before crouching down small (not lying down). Pretend to wrap ourselves up tightly before going back to sleep. Keep the music playing as we sleep for a minute.

[Music for this Section] We begin to feel our bodies vibrating and bursting with energy. Music will start playing and we burst out of our cocoons and jump into the air. Begin to run around, flapping our arms as if we are butterflies, experiencing the world for the first time.

Bring the kids back in and begin a cool down.

Begin the cool down with slow marching on the spot. Watch out for any kids trying to do it too fast or too energetically and explain to them it is to start bringing your heart rate back down to normal. Next move onto a body shake; starting at legs, shake each one before moving up the body and finishing at head. Finally, a big stretch over our head, moving our arms in a circle.

Before finishing the lesson off, end with a discussion. Recap on the story and what action was for each part of the story. Ask the class some questions to do with the lesson: which was their favourite part of the story/dance?; did they think the music made dancing along to the song easier?; if they could come up with a different move for one part of the story, what would it be?

Enquiry and Planning in Social Studies

Following the input about enquiry and planning with children, I decided that I would like to look further into enquiry-based learning and explore the importance for using this learning strategy.

The input started with looking at planning.  We were given a whole-school topic on weather, in which we had to plan activities for each level.  Dinkele (2013) states that planning is key to a successful lesson in social studies. Therefore, when planning the activities that could take place, we kept in mind the progression across each stage and what would need to be taught in early level before the children could progress into first level etc.

The experiences and outcomes that we chose to focus on were:

SOC 0-12a ‘While learning outdoors in differing weathers, I have described and recorded the weather, its effects and how it makes me feel and can relate my recordings to the seasons’

  • At early level, the activities that could take place would focus on identifying weather and learning words to describe the different weather, possibly using songs to do so.

SOC 1-12a ‘By using a range of instruments, I can measure and record the weather and can discuss how weather affects my life.’

  • At first level, now that children would know how to identify and describe weather, the activities could now move towards using instruments to record the weather. For example, making windmills and seeing how fast they spin in the wind and using temperature gauges in the classroom to record the temperature.

SOC 2-12a ‘By comparing my local area with a contrasting area out with Britain, I can investigate the main features of weather and climate, discussing the impact on living things.’

  • At second level, the activities can begin to look out with the local area. The children could research what crops are grown in Scotland and what crops are grown in a different country (i.e. Spain) and then go on to discuss the differences and why these differences may occur.

(Scottish Government, 2009)

First, we need to look at what enquiry-based learning is. Catling and Willy (2009) describe it as encouraging children to ask questions and search for answers. It builds on the children’s prior knowledge, understanding, values, beliefs and preconceptions about the world, develops their curiosity and supports them making sense of the world for themselves (Pickford et al, 2013). Using enquiry-based learning is not about just passing information between a teacher and a learner. It is about using the knowledge children already have about the world, from experiences within and out with school, and using these experiences as a basis to build the child’s learning upon.

Enquiry-based learning is very heavily based on the work of Vygotsky and his theory that knowledge is not transmitted directly from a teacher to pupil; but rather children learning about the world actively (Roberts cited in Catling and Willy, 2009; Dinkele, 2013). Vygotsky theorised that learning and development is first meditated between a child and a more knowledgeable other (in this instance the teacher) which later moves through a process called internalisation (Dimitriadis and Kamberelis, 2016). Vygotsky furthered the theory by explaining that this is not a one-way transmission of knowledge from the teacher to the learner but is an appropriation in which information is taken in to develop new skills in different ways (Dimitriadis and Kamberelis, 2016).

Through the input and wider reading, I feel much more confident with my understanding of enquiry-based learning and certainly more confident with ability to use this learning technique when I go out on placement and when I have a class of my own.


Catling, S. and Willy, T. (2009). Teaching Primary Geography. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Dimitriadis, G. and Kamberelis, G. (2006). Theory for Education. New York: Routledge.

Dinkele, G. (2010) ‘Enquiries and Investigations’ in Scoffham, S. ed., Primary Geography Handbook. Sheffield: Geographical Association. pp 95 – 103.

Hoodless, P., McCreery, E., Bowen, P. and Bermingham, S. (2009). Teaching Humanities in Primary Schools. 2nd Edition. Exeter: Learning Matters.

Pickford, T., Garner, W. and Jackson, E. (2013). Primary Humanities: Learning Through Enquiry. London: Sage Publications.

Scottish Government (2009). Curriculum for Excellence: Social Studies – Experiences and Outcomes. [Online] Education Scotland. Available at: https://education.gov.scot/Documents/social-studies-eo.pdf [Accessed 16th October 2018]

Reflecting Upon the Discovering Mathematics Module

I would just like to take some time to look back on the past three months of this module, reflecting on how my opinions on maths has changed, and how I will moved forward with the experience that I have gained.

Beginning this module back in September, I didn’t fully know what to expect from this module. How much maths was I going to have to do? Would it help my worries about maths and improve the way I thought about it? Would it be beneficial to me as a teacher? There were so many questions that I was thinking.

Overall, I have to say my views about maths has changed dramatically over the past three months. I have gone from thinking that maths is nothing but sums and equations, to believing that maths can be truly fun across a variety of different subjects. As I mentioned in my first blog post about maths anxiety, I always enjoyed maths all the way through primary school, and only lost the excitement for it when I advanced into high school. This was the time when my view on maths changed, believing the myths that you were either good or bad at maths (me believing that I was the latter) and that you could not improve. You were either born with the ability to understand it or not. This took all joy out of maths when I was only learning formulas just to pass tests and exams, but this is not how maths should be.

Leading on from my own experiences of maths, I have always been apprehensive teaching maths in the classroom. If I did not fully understand a mathematical concept, then how can I explain it to learners and make sure they understand it fully? I do not want to be teaching maths the way that I was taught it, using textbooks and doing sums over and over until I ‘understood’ it. Maths should be fun, and not considered as the ‘boring’ subject that may children love to hate. During my placement, I did a lot of maths lessons, as I wanted to push myself to teach a subject I wasn’t 100% comfortable with. Although yes, I did use textbooks and worksheets sometimes, I tried to make many of my lessons practical, to get the children involved in their own learning. I found that the interactive, ‘fun’ lessons were the ones that produced the best engagement.

From this module I have learnt a variety of things.  One being that maths is not a singular subject that stands alone. It interconnects with every subject on the curriculum, and there are countless cross-curricular lessons that could be planned and executed linking maths with other subjects. My eyes have been opened to the fact that maths is in our lives every day, but not how we might expect it. The most interesting topic that has been covered in this module is the Fibonacci sequence and golden ratio. I find it hard to comprehend the fact that this sequence and number (phi) can be found everywhere: music, art, nature, the human body, even the galaxy that we live in. It was so fascinating to learn about and I would definitely love to take time out to learn more about it.

Overall, I feel that my confidence with maths has greatly improved as a result of this module. Seeing the fun side of maths and the many different applications of it has definitely lifted the barrier between maths and I. I will take all I have learnt in the past two months forward with me into practice and hope to use my new-found confidence to dispel the myths that many children believe about maths and show them in fact it can be fun!

Image result for maths is fun

Maths in Music

I have never played an instrument in my life or classed myself as musically talented. My brother plays the bagpipes and it amazes me how he can look at the notes and knows what it means. My musical abilities go as far as playing the recorder in primary school. So, when I found out we had a musical input, I was a bit apprehensive with what to expect.

We started off by listing some things that we think link maths and music. We came up with:

  • Rhythm
  • Scale
  • Chords
  • Tuning

It was quite difficult to think of the relations between maths and music without having a musical background, as I did not know but about music anyway. Du Sautoy (2011) said “rhythm depends on arithmetic, harmony draws from basic numerical relationships, and the development of musical themes reflects the world of symmetry and geometry.”

The next thing we looked at was the Fibonacci sequence within music. Having previously looked at the Fibonacci sequence within art, it was interesting to see it appear in music as well.  I have written about the Fibonacci sequence in my last blog post so I won’t go into too much detail in this blog. There are 13 notes in an octave, scale is composed of 8 notes, the 5th and 3rd notes of the scale form the basic ‘root’ chord and are based on whole tone which is 2 steps from the root tone, that is the 1st note of the scale (Meisner, 2014).  This links to the Fibonacci sequence (0,1,1,2,3,5,8,13…). A piano keyboard scale goes from C to C with 13 keys, 8 white and 5, also split into groups of 3 and 2.  This 13th note as the octave is essential to computing the frequencies of the other notes (Meisner, 2012).

Here is the piano scale.

We then had a shot playing the instrument ourselves, which at first, I found a bit difficult, but after a few tries, I began to get the hang of. Getting the opportunity to play the instrument allowed me to experience it for myself and improve my understanding of notes and rhythm, which allowed me make connections between maths and music.

Finally, we looked at tuning an instrument. If a guitar is tuned perfectly, the notes that are strummed out are in perfect Fibonacci sequence. This is, however, not the same with a piano. If a piano was tuned in Fibonacci sequence, it would not sound right to the ear. Instead, it has to be tuned with a man made adaption on this sequence. This video does a great job of explaining why a piano cannot be tuned using the Fibonacci sequence.

It was not until taking the discovering maths module that I realised how many different areas maths connects to. This reinforces the ideas of Ma’s (2010) ideas of longitudinal coherence and multiple perspectives. I will take what I have learnt form this module into my practice as a teacher, showing the pupils how maths interconnects with other subjects, whilst creating some cross curricular lessons involving maths, music and art. I thoroughly enjoyed this input as it was practical and I liked getting to have a shot of it for myself.



Du Sautoy, M. (2011). Listen by numbers: music and maths. [Article]. Available at: https://www.theguardian.com/music/2011/jun/27/music-mathematics-fibonacci [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Meisner, G. (2014) Music and the Fibonacci Sequence and Phi. [Online]. Available at: https://www.goldennumber.net/music/ [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Minutephysics (2015) Why It’s Impossible to Tune a Piano[Online].  YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1Hqm0dYKUx4 [Accessed 27th November 2017]

Tindal, C. (2017). Maths in Art and The Fibonacci Sequence. [Blog].  Available at: https://blogs.glowscotland.org.uk/glowblogs/cbteportfolio/2017/11/24/maths-in-art-and-the-fibonacci-sequence/ [Accessed 27th November 2017]


Maths in Art and The Fibonacci Sequence

In our input with Anna, we learnt that there are many different aspects of maths within art. It was very interesting to learn about and see for ourselves.

The first activity that we took part in was drawing in the style of Mondrian. Piet Mondrian (1872 – 1944) was one of the founders of the Dutch movement De Sijl (The Art Story, n.d, b). De Stijl was an avant-garde style, that was appropriate to all aspects of modern life, from art to architecture (The Art Story, n.d., a). Mondrian was best known for being simplistic, using lines and rectangles to create his paintings.

Composition with Large Red Plane, Yellow, Black, Gray, and Blue (1921)

Here is one of Mondrian’s abstract paintings.

I then had a go at drawing my own Mondrian inspired piece of work. I started off by drawing two parallel lines about 9cm apart. I then began to draw lines within the first two lines, both vertically and horizontally, which created rectangles. I then coloured in some of the rectangles that were created and this was the result:

Here is my own interpretation of a Mondrian style of artwork.

The next thing we looked at was the Fibonacci sequence. This sequence starts with 0, and is when the two previous numbers add up to the following number, so it goes: 0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, 34, 55, 89…etc. When this sequence is drawn out in squares, it makes spiral, also known as the ‘Golden Ratio’. This video looks at Fibonacci’s sequence and how it is found in nature. It also talks about the golden ratio and its relevance to Fibonacci’s sequence.

The golden ratio is the number 1.618033, also known as phi (Φ). This number is found by the formula  (a+b)/a = a/b . This relates to Fibonacci’s sequence, as ratio of each successive pair of numbers in the sequence approximates Phi (1.618. . .), as 5 divided by 3 is 1.666…, and 8 divided by 5 is 1.60 (Meisner, 2012, b).  Phi was first used by Greek sculptor and mathematician, Phidias (Meisner, 2012, a). It was Euclid that first talked about Phi as taking a line and   separating it into two, in a way that the ratio of the shortest segment to the longest will be the same ratio of the longest to the original line (Bellos, 2010).

The golden ratio was first called the ‘Divine Proportion’ in the 1500’s. Many people believed that by taking measurements of your body, and then using the formula of phi, you were beautiful if the result was 1.60. We had a try at this ourselves by measuring:

  • Distance from the ground to your belly button
  • Distance from your belly button to the top of your head
  • Distance from the ground to your knees
  • Length of your hand
  • Distance from your wrist to your elbow

Then we had to divide:

  • Distance from the ground to your belly button by distance from your belly button to the top of your head
  • Distance from the ground to your belly button by distance from the ground to your knees
  • Distance from your wrist to your elbow by length of your hand

Some of the results i got were 1.7 which is very close to the golden ratio, and others were way off with results of nearly 2.1.

Many Renaissance artists used the golden ratio in their paintings to achieve beauty. For example, Leonardo Da Vinci used it to define all the fundamental proportions of his painting of “The Last Supper,” from the dimensions of the table at which Christ and the disciples sat to the proportions of the walls and windows in the background (Meisner, 2012, a).

Image result for the golden ratio in the last supper da vinci

Here is how Da Vinci has used the golden ratio in two of his most famous paintings.

The golden ratio and Fibonacci’s sequence is also a prominent feature in nature, as mentioned in the video before. Here are some more examples:

Fibonacci’s sequence in the bones of a human hand.

The golden spiral in a hurricane.

Image result for golden spiral in milky way

Even our own galaxy that we live in is made up of  Fibonacci’s sequence.

I found this input incredibly interesting and will definitely be taking what I learned into the classroom. This input has definitely benefited me in not only seeing the link between maths and art, but also with nature, science, and much more. . Moving forward, I can see the possible cross-curricular activities that can be undertaken with maths, linking it with art or science, by creating our own artwork using Fibonacci’s sequence or looking at how plants grow in particular ways that link to the golden ration. Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed this input and can’t wait to look at it again.



Bello, Alex (2010) Alex’s Adventures in Numberland London: Bloomsbury

Meisner, G. (2012, a). History of the Golden Ratio. [Online]. Available at: https://www.goldennumber.net/golden-ratio-history/ [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Meisner, G. (2012, b). What is the Fibonacci Sequence (aka Fibonacci Series)?. [Online]  Available at: https://www.goldennumber.net/fibonacci-series/ [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Memolition. (No Date). Examples Of The Golden Ratio You Can Find In Nature. [Online] Available at: http://memolition.com/2014/07/17/examples-of-the-golden-ratio-you-can-find-in-nature/ [Accessed 24th November 2017].

Robb, A. (2017) Maths and Art. [PowerPoint Presentation] ED21006: Discovering Mathematics [Accessed 24th November 2017]

The Art Story. (No Date, a). De Stijl Movement, Artists and Major Works. [Online] Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/movement-de-stijl.htm [Accessed 23rd November 2017].

The Art Story. (No Date, b). Piet Mondrian Biography, Art, and Analysis of Works. [Online] Available at: http://www.theartstory.org/artist-mondrian-piet.htm [Accessed 23rd November 2017].

TheJourneyofPurpose (2013) Fibonacci Sequence in Nature [Online].  YouTube. Available at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nt2OlMAJj6o [Accessed 24th November 2017]

Maths in Sports

In one of our inputs with Richard, we looked at exploring mathematics within sport. I was not surprised that maths was an integral part of sport, unlike art and stories, which was more surprising to me.

We were given the first ever recorded football league table to look at.


Here is the English league table from 1888.

Our first task was to take this league table and convert it into a league table that is used today. What we first noticed was that the old league table was ordered alphabetically, whereas league tables today are ordered by points. We looked at the table and figured out that Preston football club would be at the top based on points. We continued ordering the table in this way until we got to Bolton Wanderers and West Bromwich, as they both had the same points. When this happens, the teams are then ordered by the best goal difference. This also happened with the last two teams, Notts County and Stoke. We placed Stoke 11th and Notts County 12th, however, we noticed that on the old table, it was the other way round.

The reasoning behind this was because goal difference was not counted in league tables until 1970’s. Instead, if two teams had the same points, they were ordered by the amount of goals they had scored. In this case, Notts County had scored 39 goals compared to Stokes 26 goals, putting them higher up in the table.

Here is the league table we made based on modern day tables.

The next task we were given was to take our own knowledge of a sport and look at the mathematical perspectives behind it. Our group chose Taekwondo, as Amy participates in this sport and has a great knowledge of its rules and formats.

Here is the mind map that we came up with, showing the different mathematical perspectives and rules.

The rules of Taekwondo are as follows:

  • Punch = 1 point, kick to body = 2 points, kick to head = 3 points
  • 1 vs 1
  • Points lost for illegal activity
  • Divisions are based on weight


We then had to change the rules to see how it could potentially change the game.

This is the rule changes we decided to come up with.

The first aspect that we decided to change was the ring size; after each round ended, the ring size shrunk for the next round. We decided on this as some competitors may use the ring size to their advantage, by avoiding the opposition, and with a smaller ring size, they couldn’t do that. We also decided to shorten round time for this same reason. Another aspect that we changed were the divisions. Previously, the divisions were split by weight, which was changed to height. This was because if two competitors in the same weight divisions had a big height difference, it would be hard for the smaller player to achieve a kick to a head to gain maximum points. The next rule that we changed was the points. Instead we decided on: punch to body – 1 point; punch to head – 2 points; kick to body – 3 points; kick to head – 4 points. We decided to make our final rule change a bit quirky – changing the players from 1 vs 1 to doubles which we liked to name ‘two-kwondo’. We thought of it as similar to the idea of tag teams in wrestling.

As a result of this input, I feel that my knowledge of maths in sports, especially taekwondo has improved. Looking at this has also made me realise how changing the rules of a sport can dramatically change the outcome of the game. I will keep this input in mind as a lesson for when I am teaching, as this would be a really fun activity that the pupils would really enjoy as they can really get involved in it. It will allow them to see beyond the basic rules of sport, and view the mathematical concept behind it.



Wright, C. (2016) On this day in 1888: Preston the big winners as first football league results recorded. [Online] Available at:  http://www.whoateallthepies.tv/retro/243184/on-this-day-in-1888-preston-the-big-winners-as-first-ever-football-league-results-recorded.html [Accessed 22nd November 2017]


The History of Time

Time. Something that we use every day of our lives. How could we possibly live without it? Everything we do is based on time, when we wake up; when we eat; when we go to work; when we sleep; when we catch the bus. But have you ever stopped and thought to yourself about the history of time?

Before Clocks

There was a period of time before mechanical clocks, when telling the time wasn’t as easy as looking at your watch or checking your phone. Mechanical clocks were first seen in the early 14th century, and the first accurate pendulum clocks were brought in in the mid-16th century (Bellis, 2017, a). So how did people tell the time with no clocks?

One of the earliest ways to measure units of time were sundials. As the sun moves from East to West, the shadows formed on the sun dial show the time. Sundials were first used by Ancient Egyptians. The Egyptians built a t-shaped sundial that consisted of a crossbar and a vertical stick. 5 hours were written on this stick. The stick would be placed facing east in the morning and placed facing west in the afternoon (Marie, n.d.). It was quickly noticed that the length of the day varies at different times of the year, due to the tilting of the earth’s axis (Rogers, 2011). If this was not accounted for, then the sun dial would not display the correct time, and each week would have different times as the earth moved around the sun. By the 10th century, pocket sundials were being used (Bellis, 2011,a).

To compensate for the inaccuracy of sundials, water clocks were invented. The earliest water clock to be discovered dates back to 1500 B.C., however, the Greeks started commonly using them around 325 B.C. (Bellis, 2017, b). The two most common water clocks were either: stone vessels with sloping sides that allowed water to drip at a constant rate from a small hole near the bottom; a bowl-shaped container with markings on the inside that were used to measure the passage of ‘hours’ as water filled into the container; or a metal bowl with a hole in the bottom. The bowl would fill with water and sink within a certain time (Bellis, 2017, b).

This video shows one of the most intricate designs of a water clock. This water clock is known as ‘The Elephant  Clock’ and was built by Al-Jazari; a scholar, artisan, mechanical engineer, and inventor, from the 13th century (Georgievska, 2017). This clock was 22 feet high and would move and made a sound every half hour or hour, depending on the size of the bowl inside the elephant. Inside the elephant was a timing mechanism and basin. Inside the basin there is a bucket, and inside the bucket is a bowl with a small hole in the base, that floats in water. After half an hour, the bowl would be full and would pull a string attached to the top of the elephant. This would cause the see-saw mechanism to release a ball that fell into the serpent’s mouth. When the serpent leaned forward, his weight pulls the bowl out of the water. When this happens, the other figures begin to move, and the driver of the elephant hits his drum. The serpent then returns to his original position and the cycle happens again (Georgievska, 2017).

Mechanical clocks took over from water clocks in the early 14th century. At this time, they began to appear in public places such as in towers. The first accurate mechanical clock was invented in 1656 by Christiaan Huygens. He created the first pendulum clock that had an error of less than one minute per day. With further adjustments, that error was reduced to less than 10 seconds per day (Rogers, 2011).


Units of Time

There are many different units of time: millisecond, second, minute, hour, day, week, month, year, decade… the list could go on. But how did we decide these different periods of time?

Time Units

This flowchart illustrates the interrelationships between the major units of time.

Most historians credit the Egyptians to being the first to divide the day into smaller parts. The sundials that they used were split into 12 sections, to measure the interval between sunrise and sunset. This division reflects Egypt’s use of a base 12 system, instead of the base 10 system that we use today.  This use of sundial most likely formed the first representation of what we call an hour today.

During the night, Egyptian astronomers observed a set of 36 stars that divided the circle of the heavens into equal parts. The period of total darkness was marked by 12 of these stars, once again resulting in 12 divisions. During the New Kingdom (1550 B.C. to 1070 B.C.), this measuring system was simplified into a set of 24 stars, 12 of which marked the night. Once both light and dark were divided into 12 parts, the concept of a 24 hour day was in place (Lombardi, n.d.).

Hipparchus, a Greek astronomer, geographer, and mathematician, devised the system of longitude lines that encompassed 360 degrees running from north to south, pole to pole. Claudius Ptolemy expanded on Hipparchus’ work by dividing each of the 360 degrees of longitude and latitude into smaller segments. Each degree was divided into 60 parts, each of which was subdivided again into 60 smaller parts. The first division of 60 was called ‘partes minutae primae’ which became known as the minute. The second division of 60 was called ‘partes minutae secundae’ which then became known as the second (Lombardi, n.d.). This is where the concept of 60 seconds in a minute and 60 minutes in an hour derived from. However, minutes and seconds were not used in everyday timekeeping until many centuries after this idea was first introduced. Lombardi (n.d.) says that “clock displays divided the hour into halves, thirds, quarters and sometimes even 12 parts, but never by 60.” It was not practical for the general public to consider minutes until mechanical clocks that displayed minutes appeared at the end of the 16th century.


Standardisation of Time

From 1792, in England, it became normal to use local mean time, rather than time from a sundial. By the 18th century horse drawn coaches were taking mail and passengers across Britain, and the guards on these coaches carried timepieces. Because of the local time differences, these timepieces were adjusted to gain 15 minutes in every 24 hours if travelling west to east and vice versa if travelling east to west (Greenwichmeantime.com, n.d.). The use of local time was beginning to become an inconvenience, and accurate time was beginning to become more essential. By 1844, almost all towns and cities in Britain had adopted GMT, however a lot of railways kept their local time and showed “London Time” with an additional minute hand on the clock.  By 1847, the London and North Western Railway and the Caledonian Railway had adopted “London Time”. By 1848, most railways had followed suit (Timeanddate.com, n.d.).

Greenwich Mean Time (GMT) was adopted as the legal time throughout Great Britain on 2nd August 1880. It then also replaced Dublin Mean Time in 1916. GMT was adopted as the international standard for civil time in 1884 at the International Meridian Conference. It was the standard time until 1972 when it was replaced with Coordinated Universal Time (UTC), which is based on the solar time on the prime meridian (0° longtidue) (Timeanddate.com, n.d.).



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