I noticed that someone made a post about science class ideas and I had one that I wanted to explore at some point in the future. These courses are primarily for beginners who have no experience with either social or physical science; however, people who have experience would be encouraged to come and make the class even more interesting. I want to both identify whether anyone has any interest in something like this and also receive constructive criticism on the design, methodology, or anything else.
A lot of ink has been spilled about what science is, but its safe to say that Science is, at the very minimum, the art of both making and fitting models to explain and predict phenomena. Modeling is not something that is only good for science though. Models are used everywhere in industrial applications because they encode and abstract physical and social phenomena in such a way that we can make precise statements about things we want to learn about or use. In short, models are for literally everyone. These are examples of the sort of courses I had in mind.
To be clear, I understand that this place isn’t a college. It is not my intention to turn it into one. Anyone who has obtained a STEM degree or taking STEM courses may look at these topics and shake their head. They know, after all, that it took them several semesters to learn some of these topics. However, I will remind them that they also know that roughly 95% of the tricks they learned in calculus and differential equations courses have been automated. Sure, closed form solutions from analyzing functions by hand are nice, but they are not really necessary. Numerical Approximation by computers is king. My goal is to mainly convey enough information so that individuals can learn more about modeling without struggling like I struggled. I hate the idea of science enthusiasts wasting their time away learning how to solve integrals analytically until they lose motivation.
Below is an example of what two courses would look like. I first learned how to model through
statistics and economics, but classical physics was a better way to first learn modeling in hindsight. The systems tend to be simple, non-random, and highly concrete (you can’t see an economy, but you can see a rock roll down a hill). After investigating several different ways of exposing people to this material, I came across Leonard Susskind’s “The Theoretical Minimum”. I was surprised how approachable he was able to make classical physics without compromising too much of the rigor. The structure of his course partially informed the structure of these first courses but I have made significant changes for a couple reasons.
The first reason is that Leonard’s goal is to teach classical physics. My goal with the courses is to use various sciences, classical physics being merely one of those, as a way to teach people about modeling so that when they come across something they wish to investigate, they can at least have a starting point for that investigation. The second reason is that this is a makerspace and makers need to be able to apply what they learn. I chose Julia as the programming language because it has both an easy, clean syntax like python and is as fast as C and Fortran in most use cases.
FIRST TWO COURSES:
The Courses Are Going to Be Part Theory and Part Application.
A) The Art of Scientific Modeling I: Classical Physics and Why Does Science Have So Much Math In It? (All Theoretical Except The Very End)
- What is Science?
- What would be a desirable way to talk about science? Can we just talk about it like anything else?
- The Problem with Trying to Do Science in Natural Languages (i.e. English)
- Pre-WWII Economics: A Brief Case Study in Why Trying to Do Science Without Advanced Mathematics is a Bad Idea.
- Why Math Works for Science: The Unique Reading Lemma and Truth-Values
- Math and Models
- Classical Physics
- Classical Laws of Physics
- The Concept of A Dynamical Law
- Closed Systems, Basic Conservation Laws, and Desirable Properties of Models
- Positions and Reference Frames
- Pythagorean Theorem
- Trigonometry: Except The Way You Should’ve Been Taught It
- Vector Arithmetic
- Download Julia
- Some Suggestions on Outside Stuff to Watch
B) The Art of Scientific Modeling II: Scientific Computing (About Half Theory; Half Application)
- How should we think about stuff like time when modeling?
- What is Motion?
- Scientific Computing: Math Like It’s Actually Done In Practice
- Discussion of Julia and Basic Programming Concepts
- Basic Calculus With One Variable
- Core Ideas behind Uni-variate Optimization
- Uni-variate Optimization with Julia
- Work through a couple physics problems together with Julia
- Give Some Problems for People To Do On Their Own If They Wish
- Some suggestions on outside stuff to watch
Let me know what you guys think.