Talking Teaching at the Institute of Physics

 One of my slides....

One of my slides....

I went to Sheffield today. It's a nice enough train ride, straight from Cottingham. Even nicer when you have company (thanks to David and Emily for being in the right place at the right time).

The reason for the trip was a meeting entitled "Developments in Teaching Physics Students Computer Programming Skills", which had been organised by the Institute of Physics Higher Education Group. They'd asked me along to talk about my experiences teaching programming. Turns out I can do that.....

It was a really interesting day. Physics is a fantastic subject. And work in the field is greatly aided by a bit of programming expertise. There was considerable discussion about whether the expertise should be given in a programming language (for example Python) or using one of the popular lab packages such as LabView. Or perhaps a tool such as MatLab or Mathematica? Or you could just do things in Excel. Much to think about here...

I gave a little talk about the importance of the practical side of things, with emphasis on professional elements. I also mentioned a little framework I'm working on to help things along (of which much more real soon).

Everyone was really concerned to make sure that the skills taught were appropriate and useful, and given in a proper physics context. I think that in this company I'm more of a "means" person, with a focus on the process of producing a quality solution, where as the Physics folks are much more "ends" types, who see computing as a small component in a much larger picture.

Ether way it was a very useful and thought provoking meeting of minds.