Computers in Science Education; a new way to teach Science?

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Date/Time:Monday, 21 Mar 2011 from 4:10 pm to 5:10 pm
Location:Physics, Room 5
Phone:515-294-9901
Channel:Colloquium
Categories:Lectures
Actions:Download iCal/vCal | Email Reminder
Morten Hjorth-Jensen (University of Oslo, Norway)

In the last decades we have witnessed an incredible development of both computer hardware and software. Scientific problems that were previously solved on large special-purpose machines with special-purpose software can now be easily handled in general-purpose, interactive environments on standard PCs with the bonus of immediate visualization of the results.
A fundamental challenge to our undergraduate programs is how to incorporate and exploit efficiently these advances within the standard curriculum in mathematics and the natural sciences, without detracting the attention from the classical topics. This brings with it the major organizational challenge of how to get university teachers in a variety of different fields and departments to work together towards such a reform. Furthermore, if students are trained to use such tools from the earliest stages in their education, do such tools really enhance and improve the learning environment? In addition,and perhaps even more importantly, does it lead to better understanding and insight? Although we don't have answers to all these topics, here we present one possible approach: Computational topics are gradually introduced in the undergraduate curriculum in several bachelor of science programs (undergraduate studies) at the University of Oslo, as an integral supplement to the classical scientific syllabus. Computations are introduced from the very first semester of study and linked up with the mathematics courses in the first and subsequent semesters.
Furthermore, computational problems are integrated in basically all compulsory undergraduate Physics courses, allowing university teachers to strengthen research-based teaching at a very early level of study.