23 January 2007

A Life-Changing Weekend at Middlebury

This weekend we had 16 people make the trip from Lewiston, Me to Middlebury,Vt for the Global Climate Change and Carbon Neutrality student conference hosted by Middshift and Sierra Student Coalition. We learned a ton about emissions reduction and neutrality and how to organize a movement on our campus and join the national student movement to address anthropogenic global climate change. The weekend was inspiring and the students we were blessed to be surrounded by were extremely intelligent and motivated. They also have accomplished some amazing and important tasks. Every member of the Bates group was inspired and came back filled with information and motivation to get the movement going at Bates. I am so impressed by my fellow students and excited to work together with them to take action.

17 January 2007

Global Climate Change: Our Generation's Movement

A series of events has just lit a fire under me. These last few days as we celebrated the legacy of Dr. King and all others who struggled during the Civil Rights movement, I could not help but feel passion. I also could not help but think of my lack of political work since my high school years. I have justified this with the understanding that I have the privilege to be educated in a wonderful institution and it is my moral obligation to use that privilege of education to promote change in the world; that I should focus on my studies now and work toward change later. But I unrelentingly feel the hot coals in my heart ready to burst into flames.

While these thoughts lingered in my mind, I was invited by a friend to join him at a global climate workshop held at Middlebury College this weekend. At dinner, the same friend made a simple statement- "I can't think about other environmental issues while global warming is a threat!" which struck me. After talking with him about it, it became clear that he has been working on other environmental campaigns around campus but he can't stop thinking that global warming is of the highest priority. We began to discuss this at the table which developed into an intensive drive to start a movement. While getting dessert, another friend asked why I would not be playing in the snow at the Winter Carnival this weekend. I told him I couldn't because I had to make sure that I can play with my children in the snow on weekends to come.

Global climate change can and must be my generation’s movement! This past year’s release of "An Inconvenient Truth" helped to solidify the consciousness that global climate change IS an issue. In addition, the last few winters have provided us with our first direct and immediate impact of global warming; the lack of snow! Here at our small liberal arts college in the northern New England, skiing and winter sports are very important; we miss our snow. I couldn't count the number of times in the last month or two that it has been a sunny warm day (in Dec. and Jan.) and I would hear my friends say, "It’s global warming." We know why it is warm, now we need to do something.

The first step in a movement is to show people that there is a problem. I think that this year we have reached a point where the majority agrees that global climate change needs to be dealt with. But now that we are scared and aware, its time for a Turning Point! It is time to get excited, get aggressive, get behind the movement, and GET CONFIDENT!

We are starting to get scared because we are starting to recognize the severity of the situation. This is big, REAL BIG. But we MUST NOT GET DISCOURAGED! Now that it is on our minds, we must start to THINK POSITIVE and DEVELOP CONFIDENCE. We can change, and we will change. Not changing is simply not an option (neither is giving up on earth and going elsewhere).

Yesterday, I was honored to sit in a room with Rev. Ruby Sales as she told us about nonviolent change. Her clear message, the message of the weekend, and of the Civil Rights movement was that change must be driven by love and positive thinking. Further, Sales made it very clear that we must not shy away from conflict. We must embrace conflict and from it gain passion and promote change. These ideas relate directly to the movement that needs to drive our work to combat global climate change.

We must shift our consciousness about Global Climate Change from fear and thoughts of impending doom to thoughts of love for our planet and confidence that we can find the appropriate course of action to take in response to what we have learned. There is NO reason not to take action and every reason to. WE CAN DO THIS! This is our generation’s issue, though not by our choice, but it is real and ours. This must be what we rally behind and we must do it together. EVERYONE must make changes. WE CANNOT CONTINUE BUISNESS AS USUAL! WE CAN MAKE CHANGE! WE MUST MAKE CHANGE!


Please let the fire in yourself burn. Combine your fire with others, I know you feel it. Others around the country have already started to join their fires together; let's do it too!

Only a massive fire will turn down the heat.

Campus Climate Challenge Climate Neutrality SummitJanuary 19-21, 2007; Middlebury College, VT This summit, hosted by the Sierra Student Coalition and Middlebury’s student climate neutrality campaign, will be an opportunity for students to share strategies, plans and ideas, unify efforts, and discuss how climate neutrality victories on campuses can create demand for climate protection policies in broader society. The summit will be in a retreat-type format and will be primarily "open source." The summit will be free and lodging and food will be provided.

Sierra Student Coalition
Campus Climate Challenge

12 January 2007

What Makes A Good Math or Science Teacher?

A good math or science teacher first and foremost must inspire. They need to start by helping the students be open and interested in learning what is to be taught. There is no way to force students to learn if they are not open to it. But this task is not easy.

Our society seems to have an inherent fear of math and science. We tend to think it is inhibitivly difficult and that only a few specialists have a handle on the subjects. There is a sever disconnect between science and culture; a consciousness that science does not relate to the everyday experience. But this could not be farther from the truth.

Science and math deals with the world around us that we cannot escape; it deals with us! A good math or science teacher must get this point across to the students. She must point out everyday common experiences that can be better understood through science.

Further, a good math or science teacher must quench the student’s fears. Many people think that science is too hard or that they just don’t have the mind for it. But I think that anyone can understand scientific concepts and do the work if they have an open mind. A good science teacher must welcome the students and provide a comforting environment in which to learn.

Pedagogically, I think a good math or science teacher will present the material in clear steps and interweaving interesting tangents. The material is in fact often hard, but with a little mental work and organization the reward of the “Eureka!” moment is well worth it. The teacher must focus on providing each student with at least one “Eureka!” moment. That is the hook.

She must also be willing to stop and address the questions of the students. Math and science cannot just be presented and expected to be taken in without any dialogue, as so often it is. Math and science learning must be dynamic. The teacher must keep in mind that they are working with the students as guides and must help the students make connections to what they already know. If the student is unable to connect a concept or principle to something they already know, they will feel lost and defeated. But, on the other hand, if they are able to connect the new concept into there large picture of the world and even relate it to their own experiences, it can be one of the most exciting and rewarding experiences! The teacher should be there to help the student achieve this.

11 January 2007

What's So Funny About Quantum Mechanics?

I am planning on applying for funding to do an interdisciplinary (physics and philosophy)
project in which I will examine and try to clearly determine why and in what way(s)
quantum mechanics is so at odds with our intuitive understanding of nature. I plan to
examine Bell's inequalities, multiple interpretations of QM, the Einstein Podolsky Rosen
(EPR) paradox, and other relevant topics. My goal is not to solve the problem, but rather
to clearly and precisely define the problems as well as arguments for different
interpretations and the implications that follow. I would like to figure out how I would
best interpret QM and what principle I think we might have to disregard or adhere to, but
my own opinions will only develop upon intensive investigation.

I would hope that this would develop into a thesis and to continue on to do graduate work
in philosophy of physics (and of course become rich and famous).