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Reflections on undertaking a problem-based learning degree and the student’s perception of the role of university David McDonagh “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

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Problem Based Learning What would happen if the orbits of Mars and Earth were instantaneously swapped? What are the limits to human speed? Are these patents practical? Do they violate the laws of thermodynamics? How can software be designed to program rovers on Mars? Could life exist on Enceladus? How do magnetic particles behave in biological systems? How can they be used in medicine?

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Problem Based Learning Magnetism What is the effect of the Sun on the Earth and Mars now? The solar wind The Earth’s magnetic field The Dungey Cycle Aurora What would happen if the orbits of Mars and Earth were instantaneously swapped? Stars The nature of light Heat flow Planetary atmospheres Rayleigh scattering Wien’s Law The Van Allen Belts Albedo Steffan-Boltzmann Law Remote sensing Newton’s Law of Cooling

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Glimpsing the Cathedral An overarching problem provides context and structure Forces you to go beyond passively learning Material stops being viewed through the lens of what to know for the exam A focus on group work

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Extension Tasks Density Functional Theory as an interdisciplinary tool The viability of terraforming Mars An overview of black holes The physiological effects of space travel The viability of mining the solar system A primer to quantum computation

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Learning the Research Process Instruction is kept brief Extent of the task is decided by the student Students can pursue their interests

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Learning the Research Process A primer to quantum computation How do quantum computers work? How do classical computers work? What is the importance of quantum computers? Claude Shannon and Information Theory Church-Turing Thesis Binary notation Logic gates Boolean logic Superposition Measurement principle Hilbert Space Polarisation Entanglement Quantum states evolving with time Unitary transformations Qubit gates Quantum algorithms Fourier sampling Solovay-Strassen primality test Defining information Channel capacity and noise Cryptography

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Learning the Research Process Quantum Computation and Quantum information, Nielsen and Chuang 9 week EDX course on Quantum Computing and Quantum algorithms Khan Academy lecture series on vectors and vector spaces Code: The Hidden Language of Computer Hardware, Petzold Elementary Linear Algebra, Grossman Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences

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The Role of MOOCs

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Beyond a revision aid: Weekly lectures Course Notes Marked problem sets Assignments Discussion forum Q&A sessions with the lecturers Marked exams

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What is the Role of University? Information transfer is no longer limited to the university. How do you assimilate this information? How can you apply it? What do students expect from university?

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Reflections on Problem-Based Learning Teaching how to build, not collect bricks The importance of personalised education The course content is the same, but solving the over arching problems produces different answers, and different students. Students need to be encouraged to interact

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Thank you for listening “Give the pupils something to do, not something to learn; and the doing is of such a nature as to demand thinking; learning naturally results.” – John Dewey

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