Saturday 19 January 2013

Research early, research often

My 'easiest' class is probably "introductory ICT for 1st Years".  The manual starts with 'how to send an e-mail' and I'm reliably informed that some of our (older?) students have never done this before.  The first point I wanted to get across was that mouse-work requires a lot of static muscle activity from wrist to shoulder, which leads to lactic acid build up (it's hard for this by-product of activity to flush out if the muscles aren't pulsed), which increases fatigue, muscle mass, deep-vein thrombosis and death.  So keyboard short-cuts are the source of a longer and happier life.  Surprisingly, not a lot of people know this: ctrl+c for copy; ctrl+v for paste; ctrl+z for back-track commands; ctrl+b for bold.  Less surprisingly, and this electrified my 4th Yr class to take notes, too few people know how to do sub- and superscripts in Word or Powerpoint: ctrl+"=" and ctrl+"+" (ctrl+shift+F;b;<return> and ctrl+shift+F;p;<return> works also).

After e-mail; forwarding e-mail; e-mailing a list; deleting an e-mail and a brief foray into Boolean operators (AND OR NOT) in Google we were ready to do some research.  It's never too early to learn how to find stuff out and how to present your findings coherently - which I find is a rather neat summary of science.  So I wrote out a list of possible topics and asked them to choose one that interested them enough to find out more.  As always I exhorted them to pick a topic the really interested them rather than slavishly agreeing with my definition of interesting.  Half the class are doing Sport Science or Sport Rehab, so there is a certain bias in the following list: Cruciate ligament; Lance Armstrong’s drugs; The human genome; World population growth; Greenhouse gases quantified; Helmets in American football; Evolution of Rugby scores; Distribution of ABO blood groups; Chimpanzees; Athletic records over time; Detection of horse in burgers.
Woot!  I'm going to learn a lot when it comes to their presentations - and I won't have to work.  Like Kipling, I'm fascinated and deeply respectful by expertise outside my own - be that match-box collecting, eppendorf 101, team sports or backing a tractor and trailer round a corner through a narrow gate.

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