Shodor Scholars Program 2005
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Dr. Panoff (Bob1) began the workshop by introducing himself as the director of Shodor and telling them about Shodor's history and mission. Following this, the students introduced themselves and told the class what areas of science they were interested in. For their first activity Bob1 had them observe patterns in people's names. Next they demonstrated their own examples of observing change in different phenomena. As a final activity before lunch, Bob1 offered $100 to any team that could find the exact boiling point of radium without a doubt and with everyone in the class agreeing. Each group came up with different answers after searching the web. The purpose of the exercise was to teach students to verify their answers.

After lunch Bob1 reviewed what they had discussed about patterns and showed them how patterns can difficult to see. By the end of the week, however, he promised them that they would be able to see more patterns than they ever thought possible.

Bob1 continued the class by talking about algorithms. The first activity covered the IF THEN ELSE condition. Bob1 demonstrated this by flipping a coin. The class wrote an algorithm to describe this using the IF condition and a random number function. Next Bob1 presented a question to the class, "How many times do you have to flip a coin (or repeat any other activity) to make it truly random?" One student suggested making a counter and 100 trials in Excel to answer Bob1's question.

Then, Bob1 combined the idea of flipping a coin and patterns to biology by talking about recessive and dominant genes. Afterwards, he tied all the day's topics together into different aspects of life like math, casino games, and chance games that claim to be random. He also discussed syntax (details or instructions on how to write program languages) and how programs rely on it.

The next activity showed students to not always depend on their computers because they are, in reality, not very smart. This was illustrated by showing round-off errors in Excel. The reason for this, Bob1 explained, is that computers work with numerals (a representation of numbers), which are approximations and not exact.

After snack, Bob1 showed the students the National Science Digital Library. This site is similar to Google, but gives credible information, validated by scientists. Next they moved on to the logic behind guessing. The students were asked to find the number in the middle of an interval using ranges from 1 to 10 and 1 to 10,000. Then they were asked to do the same thing in a non-mathematical setting. They were asked to decode a word puzzle.