Wednesday, August 03, 2005

Home Stretch

We're now wrapping up the academic portion of COSMOS and working primarily toward our final projects and presentation. The cluster groups will be giving their PowerPoint presentations tomorrow during Science Communication and then tweaking programs and posters in the afternoon. Friday will be the big presentation day as they do their final 10-min PowerPoint for Joe, Larry, and Christine and then have the Expo for other students and COSMOS staff in the afternoon. I'm eager to see how everything turns out. Some groups are still working diligently on their programs, so all will be new to me tomorrow.

Tuesday, July 26, 2005

Week 3 Already

It's already week 3! We had a good Discovery Lecture this morning on global warming and an awesome field trip this afternoon. I'm dying to get one of the digital pens we saw.

This morning's Science Communication was also fun. I enjoyed discussing PowerPoint and its advantages and disadvantages. I wish more of the students had been familiar with The OC since it would have made for a far more humorous and engaging presentation, but we got to look at various ways of adding animation and enhancing PowerPoint overall.

We also covered the project poster details and what needs to be part of a good poster display. Hopefully, resources will not be too scarce, and students will be able to access what they need over the weekend.

Tuesday, July 19, 2005

It's Tuesday of Week 2.

Well, this week is already going more smoothly than last week. The students and instructors all seem to be more comfortable. I enjoyed giving this morning's brief on uncertainty in science and error analysis. This afternoon, we're going on our first "trip" to the Super Computer Center which I think will be extremely exciting for everyone in the cluster. I need to finish looking over the weekly writing assignments tonight. For the most part, I am impressed by the students' grasp of the conceptual material, but their writing is really rough in terms of form and grammatical structures. I wish I could impress upon them the importance of writing well, even in the field of science.

Friday, July 15, 2005

Friday of the First Week

Today was completely different than the first four days of COSMOS. During the morning session with Christine, the students continued with the concept of computer intelligence and gave brief oral arguments. The group also read two extremely complex and stimulating articles and then discussed them at length. During the afternoon session, Joe continued the topic by discussing whether or not humans are just complicated machines. I was amazed at how the students engaged in this topic and seemed to want to continue this profound conversation.

Thursday, July 14, 2005

The Challenge of Varying Skill Level

I'm really struggling with a way to better accommodate the skill level differential in our cluster. More so than in other areas, I think we have an obstacle when it comes to getting everyone on the same page. For the most part, a few are lost, a few are bored, and several are picking up bits and pieces. My main observation is that we need to teach a few skills from a more basic level. For instance, I think a great number of students were really lost with the C++ and Java exercises Tuesday in the lab. Some claimed to have conquered one or more activities, but I'm not so sure. Coming from a minimal computing background myself, I was unable to perform either of those activities. I simply didn't know where to start.

How the Science Communication Course if Going

So far, I feel the students are generally bored with the material being presented in my classes. I think they all are familiar with the scientific method, and they continue to prove that by answering questions regarding this process correctly. Today, we worked on a graphing exercise that involved comparing mass and string length to time it takes a pendulum to swing back and forth. Though the physical/hands-on nature of the activity made it more enjoyable, I wish there had been a way to better link it to computing. Hopefully, they understand its signficiance in terms of science and documenting data. The lab notebooks have proven irrelevant to our cluster for the most part. The students grasp the importance of dating their work, taking good notes, jotting down questions, etc., but given the material we will be covering and the activities we will be performing in the cluster, I think that whole part of the curriculum needs to be evaluated more individually by cluster next summer. We didn't get much of a chance to cover the first part of our team skills curriculum today, and I think it's primarily because I feel the language is very straight forward. I'm planning on going more into detail on that as we get into our projects next week.

Tuesday, July 12, 2005

How I ended up teaching in the COSMOS program

I was contemplating summer employment when the awesome COSMOS flier came to my school's office. I saw that junior high school and high school teachers specializing in Math and/or Science could apply to work with high school students at UCSD for a month over the summer. When I reviewed the cluster topics, I knew that I wanted to be a part of Computing, and fortunately, I'm here learning with and helping to guide bright kids from all over California.