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Trip to the SSL

Aug 12, 2010   //   by Jacob   //   Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Just a quick update on yesterday’s trip to the SSL.

Not even the gloomy August weather could deter the Compass trip to the Space Sciences Laboratory this year! Having gone to the SSL when I was in the summer program, and loving it, I was super excited to lead this year’s students up there.

The bus ride up the Hill line was fairly uneventful, but provided some spectacular views (despite the weather) of the East Bay. Stuart Bale, lab director and professor extrodinaire greeted us at the lab and began with a short discussion about what the SSL is all about. I think it would be great if students interested in the stuff they do took his advice and look for the undergraduate posts up there in April.

The group then proceeded to go look at a couple labs around the facility. I, and it seems many of the students were very amused with seeing a large piece of space-borne equipment (I don’t remember what, exactly) being displayed in a coffin stripped of its outer casing.  We also were able to see the control center and some aquisition of data as a satellite flew over Wisconsin or some other non-California (and thus inconsequential) state.  Unfortunately we were not able to see one of the labs Professor Bale intended us to see.

Finally we got to go see the awesome view from the patio area of the lab, and managed to witness the fury of Berkeley August unleashing dark clouds like molted sheep suspiciously creeping about  the hills. And a great panoramic view moins cher viagra.

Hope everyone had fun.

Can discussions teach? "YES they can!"

Aug 11, 2010   //   by AngieLittle   //   Summer Program 2010  //  2 Comments

Hey all!

I’m Joyjit (or Joy, as I like people to call me), and I’m a Compass 2010 student from India (yep, that’s right! THE India!). I’ve only had one more experience with a summer program (we don’t do many of those in India), and that was EPGY at Stanford last year. I pretty much expected Compass to be the same, but after the last three days’ classes, I can surely term the two programs as poles apart!

Coming from the Indian education system, I’ve pretty much been deprived of the concept of ‘discussions in class’. I’m used to lectures, and homework assignments, and more lectures, and still more homework assignments, and so on… So what I’m used to is basically being fed the facts, and then working with them to solve problem sets.

The Compass format, understably, is radically new for me. It completely does away with the conventional image of a professor standing behind a desk and teaching a class (comprising of about 10% students sleeping). Basically, we have no lectures. The spectacular thing is that the Compass classes are all about discussions and self-learning processes. We even think about HOW to think (cool, right?)! Whatever progress we’ve made till now in the Compass classes (which is quite significant I think, but I don’t know if the teachers would agree :S) has more or less been been based on deductions made by students! Of course, the discussions always follow an initial prompt, but the whole process of learning induces excellent understanding. We think, we discuss, we debate, and we try our best to come to a consensus. But we keep coming up with just more questions! And that’s what makes it so much more amazing! The system takes time to be absorbed, but its worth the wait…

 The teachers and RAs are great too! What shows this is that I’ve not once felt sleepy in their company :P! They’re fun to learn from. (I’ll write more about them later. I’m hungry and I’m heading for dinner now.)

I’ve probably written stuff that is redundant (that shows that I’m really impressed by the Compass Project :D), but I didn’t know how much I should write. I’ll ask Anna before my next post.

I’ll write again soon!

P.S. – This is my first ever blogpost, so if you all have any criticism or suggestion, do let me know. Thanks :).

Day 3: Classes, extra-solar planets and doughnuts

Aug 11, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Another day has dawned and set on the summer program.

Not much has been written yet about the classes; as neither a student or teacher, I have observed only a little of the classroom action.  But this I can say: the classroom style is unlike anything these students have experienced before.  For instance, there are no lectures.  The teachers only use the chalkboard for writing questions, to prompt student discussion and discovery.  For each prompt, the students first consider the question independently, writing in their notebooks.  Then, they discuss in groups of 3 or 4.  And after that, the whole class comes together in a circle such as this:


Teaching and Grad School

Aug 10, 2010   //   by Joel Corbo   //   Physics Education  //  3 Comments

This is a guest post that I wrote a few years ago for Cosmic Variance (an awesome physics blog that you should read!) about being a grad student who’s interested in teaching and some of the troubles with traditional physics education.  I decided to link to it rather than repost it here because there were a lot of great comments posted by readers that are worth reading.

LN2 Ice Cream Photos!

Aug 9, 2010   //   by gina   //   Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Hey guys,
This is Gina, your trusty Compass Resident Assistant! I just thought I’d add some visuals of what we’ve been up to!

Yesterday morning we had a Liquid Nitrogen Ice Cream Social, in which we mixed cream/juice/coconut milk, sugar and LN2 to produce delicious ice cream and sorbet!

Jenna, Jessica and Pauline enjoying ice cream!

Day 2: Classes and Lab tours

Aug 9, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  1 Comment

Classes began today!  I didn’t get a chance to witness the magic, but I can say that the tour of the Zettl lab was epic.  We saw nanotubes and lithography samples in the scanning electron microscope, got a rockin’ demonstration of nanotube synthesis, and saw the transmission electron microscope, scanning tunneling microscope, and atomic force microscope.  Five students attended this tour, and the other students were split into a tour of the Sadoulet labs and Stamper-Kurn labs.   I don’t know what happened on those tours- but I’m sure they were great as well.

The first full day of Compass: different than before

Aug 9, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  2 Comments

For this year’s summer program, we tried something we haven’t done before in Compass: giving the students a full day of activities to get to know each other before starting classes.

In previous years, we always jumped right in on the first day with classes.  We decided to try to make the goal of building community more explicit this year, and felt that having the first day be classes-free would help further that goal.  The schedule was scavenger hunt in the morning, liquid nitrogen ice cream social in the afternoon, followed by some free time- which ended up being frisbee (as per the compass tradition)- and a game night in the evening.

The Welcome Speech

Aug 8, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Last night, Harjit Singh, Compass student from 2009, delivered a great welcome speech.  He left everyone laughing and moved with his sweet sincerity.   Here’s what he delivered to the crowd of 80 students, families, grad students and faculty:

For all the incoming freshmen sitting here, you’re probably wondering what you’re getting yourself into.  To be honest with you, a year ago, I had no idea either.  The thing is, for the summer program at least, you’re going to be confused, lost, frustrated, and by the end, completely exhausted.  But during the whole experience, you’re going to have an unbelievable amount of fun, and I’m not just saying that because I’m getting a free dinner.  To shed some light on Compass, I’ll talk just briefly about its history and what you can expect from the program.

The 2010 Summer Program Begins!

Aug 8, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  No Comments

Compass 2010 is officially kicked off!   The students arrived to day, trickling in from an early arrival at 2 to the last minute arrivals just before dinner.  It was wonderful having the help of so many veteran Compass students to check in the new students, help them find their rooms, show them around campus and reassure them that Compass is Awesome.

At the dinner, a student from last year’s class gave an amazing welcome speech, more on that later….

Compass and the Fear

Aug 5, 2010   //   by Anna Zaniewski   //   Compass News, Summer Program 2010  //  2 Comments

The Compass summer program is about to begin.  And I am afraid.
I am a graduate student, in physics, and I’ve been doing a lot of the coordinating for the program.  The goal of my efforts has been pretty simple:  enable the incoming students to build community amongst each other and with the older Compass students and graduate students.  I have been involved with Compass for three years now, and I know we are going to have a great program – everyone involved from the teachers to the RAs to the coordinators – have been working together for months to build something beautiful and unique.  But here I am, just over a day away from the start of the program, and I feel a little sick in the stomach.

Is it from too many cookies consumed this afternoon at the cookie party?  Perhaps.  The home made thin mints and “smooches” were quite addictively delicious.  But really, I know the reason: the Fear.