Tuesday, June 16, 2009

School Work

Most of this blog has been concerned with the sights and experiences of Spain. However, today I have to comment on the level of effort that the students are putting into the classwork. It has been a very long time since I have had the opportunity to work with a class that is so uniformly committed to mastering the material and it has been a pleasure.

For this summer, I am trying a different approach to teaching (and learning) statics that is based on complete vector analyses and the application of a computer tool, Mathcad, for the detailed calculations. Mathcad can be used for vector algebra the way that a simple calculator is used for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. The difficulty is that the students must be proficient performing derivations based on vector algebra before they can take advantage of the tool and that is a significant additional challenge.

Today we were ready for the second test. Several of the students did not feel secure in their preparation and wanted additional class time and more examples. They voluntarily agreed to an 8:30 instead of 10:00 class time this morning and we ended up working from 8:30-2:30 (normal lunchtime here). We had the test and everyone performed perfectly. It was great.

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