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Active Learning Series - Co-sponsored by CSE Active Learning Committee & CETL  :: Easy web-based computing for students 

Friday, April 13, 2018 :: 2:15-3:15 PM

Intended Audience: Faculty & GTA's

Facilitated By: Axel Mellinger, Physics

Computation is an indispensable tool in many disciplines of science and engineering. Data analysis, data mining, visualization and modeling all require students and professionals to have a working knowledge of software tools, which often involves writing or adapting code. However, instructors face a number of challenges when attempting to implement a computational component in undergraduate courses. Many departments are reducing student computer workplaces, as most students have their own mobile computing devices. Yet, these devices do not come with the necessary specialty software or programming languages, and software installation on student-owned computers is difficult to support due to licensing restrictions and the large number of students and platforms. Jupyter notebooks are a new tool developed to address these concerns. They allow running a wide range of programming languages and visualization tools on any device with a web browser. No software installation is required on the students’ side, and – since Jupyter is open source software – there is no licensing cost for students or CMU. A Jupyter notebook combines live code, with rich text. Instructors can explain some concept in a “markdown cell” using equations, figures and narrative text, and then have the students execute computer code in a “code cell”. If no coding is desired, students can work with existing simulation tools where they change parameters with sliders. Jupyter notebooks are being used in a wide variety of fields, ranging from Physics, Chemistry and Earth Sciences to Linguistics and Economics. The workshop will discuss practical aspects of using Jupyter notebooks as a teaching tool, based on the experience gained in a 100-level physics lab course. Light refreshments will be provided.

Location: Dow 135

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