[SciPy-user] Matlab, Scipy and teaching science
Steven H. Rogers
steve at shrogers.com
Fri Oct 21 07:06:06 CDT 2005
I was a Physics undergrad, and my two cents is that programming is just as
important as calculus for a 21st century Physics graduate. When I was a
frsshman, we learned calculus as part of our introductory Physics course
despite taking a calculus course concurrently from the Math department
because we needed to use techniques that came later in the Math course. I
think Programming should be given similar treatement. It's useful for
teaching critical, logical thought in addition to producing nice tables and
graphs of results.
Peter Bowyer wrote:
> At 19:13 20/10/2005, Perry Greenfield wrote:
>>The problem I have with this is that your goals seem murky. Is the
>>choice centered around what is most effective to teach Physics students
>>how to program (as your opening suggest). Or what they think will be
>>most useful to them in their career? Or which you think will irritate
>>them least with regard to installation or cost? Or something else?
> The short answer is that I don't know.
> The long answer is that this is another goal of the project: to
> decide whether programming should be taught to physics
> undergraduates; if so how much should be and when and in what
> form. At present it is not clear whether this has to fit within the
> departmental course structure and time-tabling (the current
> introductory course has got squeezed shorter and shorter) or whether
> I can propose a totally different course. As the optional 3rd year
> computational physics course uses the programming from the
> introductory course, whatever changes I make will affect the latter
> course. And should we be teaching all physics students to program
> (instead of just those who do the computational physics course) - in
> fact why not teach them how to plot graphs and analyse data instead,
> skills they'll use in the 2nd and 3rd year laboratories?
> At this point the project really goes back to the question of "What
> should the point of a Physics degree be?". What are we trying to
> create in the students - future researchers, numerically literate
> people to fill jobs, people with broad thinking? This question will
> have to be addressed to some extent by the project, as it will shape
> the direction of the course.
> In the end the project will be what I define it to be, and I am
> leaning to the first goal (what is most effective to teach Physics
> students how to program).
>>Who is deciding? You? Your advisor?
> I am, although I have been advised that whatever solution I propose,
> a version that fits within departmental constraints would be appropriate.
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Steven H. Rogers, Ph.D., steve at shrogers.com
"He who refuses to do arithmetic is doomed to talk nonsense."
-- John McCarthy
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