[SciPy-user] Matlab, Scipy and teaching science

Peter Bowyer peter at mapledesign.co.uk
Fri Oct 21 03:19:31 CDT 2005

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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