Archive for April 28, 2011

Do the Chemistry Profs care about teaching more than the Computer Science Profs?

A couple of weeks ago, Barb and I were awarded Georgia Tech’s Service Award for our work with Georgia Computes!. At the same awards ceremony, across the table, was David Collard of Chemistry who was getting the Professional education award.  He’s been part of an effort (described below) called cCWCS which teaches chemistry faculty how to teach better — and the program has taught over a thousand faculty!

A thousand faculty?!?  I’ve blogged about how hard it is to get CS faculty to come to our workshops, either Media Computation or Georgia Computes.  I’ve talked to other folks who offer workshops to CS faculty, and they say that they have to invite high school teachers, too, or they won’t have enough people to run the workshop.  Why do so many Chemistry professors show up, when we struggle to get CS professors to show up at teaching workshops?

Barb had an interesting insight: Maybe it’s because Chemistry is taught to everyone.  When you teach something to everyone, you have to teach it better, or at least differently than what you’d just teach to your majors who are more motivated to learn it.  If you don’t change your practice, you end up flunking all the students, and that becomes a political problem on campus.  CS faculty, for the most part, teach to our own.  Maybe as we teach CS to more (as Eric Roberts’ post suggests), we too will have to increase our focus on teaching.

What cCWCS does

cCWCS provides support for STEM education dissemination efforts efforts. This takes the form of sponsorship of workshops and symposia, assistance with advertising and webpage development, and formation fo partnerships and networks. Please see our What cCWCS can do for YOU! webpage for more details.

Origins of cCWCS

The Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops and Communities of Scholars (cCWCS) program is the successor to the Center for Workshops in the Chemical Sciences (CWCS).   CWCS was supported for 2000-2010 by a series of grants from NSF Division of Undergraduate Education Course, Curriculum, and Laboratory Improvement program. Over a ten-year period, CWCS offered over 100 hands-on, intentive and immersive five-day workshops for over 1800 participants. These workshops were designed for individuals engaged in undergraduate teaching. They incorporated lots of hands-on experiential learning and provided extensive sets of high quality tested curriculum materials.

Looking ahead

As cCWCS, funded by the NSF TUES program, the schedule of workshops will continue but a much broader set of activities will further engage members of the professoriate networking opportunities. These include both week-long workshops, shorter workshops and symposia at conferences, support of regional initiatives, and dissemination and implementation grants. The development of new web-based communities provides further opportunities to engage the professoriate in professional development activities.

via About cCWCS | Chemistry Collaborations, Workshops & Communities of Scholars.

April 28, 2011 at 9:54 am 20 comments

PyCon 2011: Python and Robots

An interesting video on using the IPRE approach to teaching high school robotics.

Combining Python with inexpensive robots is a very effective way of teaching programming at the middle and high school levels. Since Python is easy to understand a constructivist approach is possible – students learn by creating and running simple programs, observing the results, and then modifying their code to fix bugs and add functionality.

via PyCon 2011: Python and Robots: Teaching Programming in High School – PyCon US Videos – 2009, 2010, 2011 –

April 28, 2011 at 9:37 am Leave a comment

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