Today we had a visit from South Craven School in North Yorkshire. We were asked to prepare a session so that students who were interested in Computing could come along and do an activity with us. To this end, we decided to let them create robots and have it out in the battlefield.
If you are not familiar with it, Robocode is a great fun introduction to programming. It’s an open source educational programming game, where the goal is to develop a robot battle tank to battle against other tanks in Java or .NET. The robot battles are running in real-time and on-screen. You can also run it on any system that has Java pre-installed, and there’s lots of support online if you wish to have a go in your own time!
Dan gave a quick introductory talk about what we expected them to do and how they could get started…
We then let the kids run wild with their robots and make changes to the code. They were very bright and were thinking up ways were they could optimise their strategies. Of course Dan, Lorna and I were on hand to give advice…
All it all it was a very successful session and they seemed to have a good time, mission accomplished!
For 2015 the Lancashire Science Festival is EVOLVING!
This coming June on 25, 26 and 27, UCLan will once again be hosting the Lancashire Science Festival.
Some of our Computing staff will be involved in the proceedings, so do come along and see what cool stuff we are getting up to.
This year’s 3 day celebration of Science, Technology, Engineering and Maths is going to be even bigger and better than ever! Have a look at the official website to see what sessions are running and to bag yourself a FREE ticket.
This year’s research paper winners Thomas Tijssen and James Lemin, receiving their prize from me (sponsored by O’Reilly).
I’ve been investigating the concept of undergraduate research for a few years now. Especially the effectiveness of integrating research opportunities within the 1st year Computing undergraduate cohort, and how the introduction of a research culture enables the teaching team to engage the students and create a foundation of skills that are transferable throughout their course.
The teaching of university students at undergraduate level has conventionally mostly been about providing students with learning skills and about enabling their procurement and understanding of information. Imagine this scenario, so common in higher education: several hundred students assemble together into a big tiered lecture room, to sit an hour, sometimes longer, to listen to a one way lecture. Students are commonly expected to gain an understanding of the subject matter usually by attending these lectures and reading a body of evidence-based literature. At some stage during their academic studies (normally at the end of the academic year) it is necessary to ask them to reiterate the information handed out during those lectures, in order to assess what the student has absorbed. Often, they graduate without experiencing the practices that went into forming the specific readings they study from.
Presently, it is only when a student actually graduates they experience the development of independent inquiry, intellectual independence and knowledge creation. Engaging students in using the skills associated with research can only improve the quality of the university undergraduate experience, and improve their critical thinking.
Students who undertake CO1801 (Practitioner Skills) are required to write a research paper as one of their assignments. This module serves as a tool for students to learn and put into practice skills that will increase their employability; such as team working, adaptability, communication and research proficiency. Students have to propose a piece of experimental research, carry out their experiment, and write it up in a short journal paper format. The best papers are submitted to UClan’s Journal of Undergraduate Research, further encouraging quality of work and engagement.
Last night, Dr Michael Shara, Curator, American Museum of Natural History, New York is talking about Einstein, his science and his life, during a public engagement talk.
“The most incomprehensible thing about the world is that it is at all comprehensible” Albert Einstein (1879-1955)
His contribution to science and to humanity really was not matched by any other human being in his time. Had Einstein not lived it may have been a century till our modern technological society reached where it has today.
Why do we care about Einstein? What are the implications of his work? Well, he tackled some little problems in physics such as light, matter, time, energy and gravity.
Einstein was a contradiction. He was a pacifist, a socialist, not religious, and a warm and gentle man.
Initially when he graduated he was hired as a patent clerk. He wasn’t hired as a teacher because none of his professors could tolerate him. He did of course go on to win the Nobel Prize.
His true greatness was his work tackling the problems of space and time and establishing that energy and matter are the same thing.
The faster you move through space the slower you move through time. Time is not absolute, time is relative.
About 10 years later Einstein figured out how gravity works.
It was really interesting to hear about the science, but even more so to hear about Einstein the man.
Such a fantastic talk could only have been received with a resounding thank you from the audience.
“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”
This programme focuses on providing students with the opportunity to explore leadership and their own leadership potential through a residential Leadership Challenge event, based in Cyprus. This involved a group of students flying out to UCLan Cyprus to participate in an intensive three-day programme. We were lucky enough to be able to take out a group of 36 of us from our School, and we certainly made the most of it and had lots of fun!
We flew out to Cyprus on Tuesday night and arrived quite late in the evening. However, the staff at the accommodation were fantastic and even helped us pre-order lots of pizza so that we didn’t go to bed hungry.
We spent Wednesday and Thursday on the fantastic UCLan Cyprus campus undertaking the leadership classes. The campus is really modern and the facilities are superb. Here’s a group photo (supplied by Dominik Weber) from the morning when we first arrived on the steps of the main building:
We also had breakfast on campus, fuel for the day, before we started on the leadership programme…
We were lucky enough to have Friday as a free day, as it was a national holiday (Labour Day) in Cyprus. Some students used this opportunity to have a night out in Ayia Napa the night before, whilst others spent the day visiting the nearby cities or even relaxing on the beach.
We even found time to meet with some of the Cypriot staff to discuss our modules and courses.
On the Saturday the students had to present what they had learnt, and they decided to do so in an innovative manner featuring the children’s game of ‘Chinese Whispers’. We did this outside by the pool to take advantage of the bright sunny weather, who says classrooms need to have 4 walls and a roof?
Too soon, it was time to come home again. All in all it was a very successful trip and the feedback from the students was very positive. Can’t wait to go back again next year!
Last week saw 40+ international agents visit us on the UCLan campus from all over the world. We had a fantastic time in the School showing them round and talking to them about our innovative research and our teaching catalogue.
Graham and I even find time to take our India Regional Manager Govind out for some lovely Caribbean food.
We took all 1st Year Computing students bowling this week, and we even paid! It was fun and there was quite a lot of friendly banter (and sometimes even bouts of serious competition) floating around the place. Exams are in a few weeks and bowling is a good way to de-stress before that final push to the finish line.
Quotes from some of the students who attended…
“Just wanna thank all those who organised it for the bowling today. Was good fun and a good break from the norm!”
“Glad I came down, even if I was disgraced by my shoddy bowling.”
The UCLan Future Leaders Programme starts next month in April 2015 and lasts for 12 months. It is open to all first and second year undergraduate students across the whole of the University. This is a great chance for students to gain a leadership qualification as it is accredited by the Institute of Leadership and Management and fully funded by UCLan, so it is at no cost to students.
It’s a great opportunity for students to gain new skills. It is also a fantastic addition to a CV and it adds value to it. We are very proud that this year we got quite a few students from Computing through the tough selection process. Initially, students have to fill in an application and write a personal statement. Once they have been approved through that they need to attend a selection day at the army barracks, it’s very challenging but also lots of fun. Those students who manage to get through the selection day then need to attend a residential. It is only after completing all these stages that a student can join the leadership programme.