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2017 TeachWeek Open Classes

TeachWeek Caltech January 17-23, 2017

Caltech faculty invite fellow faculty, staff, students, and alumni to sit in on a variety of TeachWeek Open Classes spanning Caltech's divisions and levels. Each one features a distinct philosophy of learning and approach to teaching. 

Open Class Reservation Form -- Closed

Space may be limited due to capacity and activities.

Tue., Jan. 17  |  Wed., Jan. 18  |  Thu., Jan. 19 |  Fri., Jan. 20 

Tuesday, January 17, 2017:

  • 1:00 - 2:25 PM, Baxter 125
    New Media Arts in the 20th and 21st Centuries,
     Engineering/ History/Art 89
    Hillary Mushkin, Research Professor of Art and Design in Mechanical and Civil Engineering:
    "This class explores the intersections between art and science over the past 100+ years. We draw inspiration from thematic explorations of artists working with new technologies in different eras—robotics, electronics, computers, and more—and students expand their creative thinking and making through self-designed projects. In class, we're constantly discussing artistic and technological themesRather than showing fixed PowerPoint slides of the art we're examining, we view the work in situ, within the online collections and repositories where further exploration can occur. It's really a joy to teach this class—Caltech students are very sophisticated and insightful, and they end up bringing new perspectives back to their science and engineering work."

  • 7:30 - 10:30 PM, Baxter 127
    The Supreme Court in US History, 
    Law/Political Science/History 148a
    Morgan Kousser, William R. Kenan, Jr., Professor of History and Social Science:
    "In the last few years, the U.S. Supreme Court has struck down campaign finance laws, eliminated a crucial part of Obamacare, established gay marriage nationwide, and ripped away protections from minority voting rights, to name just a few of the topics it has taken up.  This course provides a very rigorous, student-centered introduction to the history of the SCOTUS as an institution. In the Jan. 17 session, we take up the threshold questions of standing, jurisdiction, and justiciability:  Who has a right to the Court's time?  Can the Court actually decide a question?  Should it, or should it leave the question to other governmental bodies or say it's unanswerable? To what degree are answers to such threshold questions determined by the justices' positions on the substantive questions that will be decided if the case moves to an actual decision?  Students will present briefs based on excerpts from classic cases on all of those issues, and we'll learn just how important these 'technicalities' are."

Wednesday, January 18, 2017:

  • 11:00 - 11:55 AM, Bridge Laboratory of Physics 201
    Classical Mechanics and Electromagnetism, Analytical Track, 
    Physics 1b
    David Hsieh, Assistant Professor of Physics:
    "Physics 1b is an introduction for all freshmen on fundamental topics like electromagnetism, but they also learn about special relativity, which is less common for a first year course. Beyond solidifying the basics, I want students to appreciate the elegance of physics, apply it to many facets of research and industry, and get ready to solve problems in all kinds of settings—in teams, on their own, and in presentation format. For those reasons, we use a variety of learning tools they can transfer to future endeavors, including collaborative problem solving and incorporating demonstrations that make concepts more memorable."

Thursday, January 19, 2017:

  • 11:00 - 11:55 AM, Baxter Lecture Hall
    General Chemistry,
    Chemistry 1b
    Tom Miller, Professor of Chemistry:
    "I regard teaching Ch 1b, part of the Caltech Core, as a big honor. It's a fun challenge to think about what aspects of chemistry every scientist should know and how to teach them so they're useful for every Caltech student. In the prior quarter, students learned about chemical bonds and how they determine molecular structures. In this course, we're taking up the other major governing question in chemistry—how atoms move in time, which determines chemical reactions, how materials behave, and how matter interacts with light and energy. That underpins a huge swath of interesting molecular behavior and important physical phenomena.” 
  • 1:00 - 2:25 PM, Baxter Lecture Hall
    Introduction to Economics,
    Economics 11
    Antonio Rangel, Bing Professor of Neuroscience, Behavioral Biology, and Economics:
    “Over the past several years, I’ve experimented with the format of Ec 11, and now have an approach that has really improved learning. I teach using a ‘flipped classroom’ model, where students’ first exposure to the material is online, through short videos and practice problems. In class, they work on challenge problems to reinforce recent concepts, including some individual work, some team discussion, and input from me via brief summaries of key aspects of the solution with Q&A. Visitors to this open class are welcome to access the online materials via edX and try their hand at the challenge problems in class.” 

Friday, January 20, 2017:

  • 9:00 - 9:55 AM, Sloan 151
    Introduction to Abstract Algebra
    , Math 5b
    Elena Mantovan, Professor of Mathematics:
    "I like teaching this class—it's the first time students get to experience mathematics at its best, as a modern research field. That's really fun, especially when they see how much you can do with a few seemingly simple but powerful concepts, such as symmetry and groups. This class gives them a collection of examples they can use when solving many other types of problems, and they also learn to be creative mathematically in their proofs, like working mathematicians do."

  • 1:00 - 1:55 PM, Annenberg 105
    Decidability and Tractability, 
    Computer Science 21
    Chris Umans, Professor of Computer Science:
    "As the first computer science theory course, this is where some students fall in love with the field—one they  might not have even known existed. They suddenly realize there's an incredible set of deep and accessible problems at the intersection of mathematics and computer science. For me, it's fun to be the person who shows them the real framing of important and sometimes unsolved problems at the heart of computer science, like 'P vs. NP.' Caltech students can appreciate the big mysteries in these problems, in all of their technical detail, which really draws them in."


Campus Map with ADA Information 

CTLO LogoTeachweek is organized by the Center for Teaching, Learning, & Outreach. Thanks to the Twenty-Seven Foundation for supporting TeachWeek, as well as for sponsorship of other events engaging the Caltech community in new perspectives on teaching and learning throughout the year.