Reflections on the
many Online Weekend experiences

Nov. 2020

Community is an important part of the NCSSM experience, and each semester we look forward to our Online Weekends, when we have more time to explore a course topic in greater depth while getting to know our instructors and classmates better both in class and in enrichment and social activities. Adapting to our current mode of teaching and learning presented a challenge for our Online Weekends, but faculty, online resource coordinators, and students used their creativity and expertise to deliver 23 course sessions attended by about 250 students in October.

Perhaps there is no better way to get a sense of our weekends than to hear from our students and faculty:

Noelle Poovey writes about her Energy and Sustainability class: “We visited the NC Botanical Garden in Chapel Hill and explored sustainability features of the buildings and landscaping in groups. We also took measurements for the GLOBE Urban Heat Island Effect Data Collection Project. Some of the most notable sustainability features were strategic window orientations allowing passive solar heating, water retention basins for rainwater storage, and a permeable parking lot. Here is a picture of me and my group!”

Afzaa Rahman describes “a wonderful time dissecting a sheep brain for Dr. Powell's Intro to Neuroscience class. We learned about various components of the brain structure while discussing their functions and the roles they play in our lives. It was truly an unforgettable experience!”

Jon Davis leveraged NCSSM’s alumni network to engage Dr. Morgan Carter (Class of 2010), a plant pathologist, in his Classical Genetics course to share her story and lessons learned, and give the class a virtual tour of her bacterial genetics lab in Tucson, AZ. Read more on the NCSSM news page.

Students in Dr. Jeffries’ Biomedical Engineering class conducted experiments on muscle function as it relates to tennis elbow. They captured EMG data with LoggerPro and Vernier sensors, then analyzed it. In the afternoon they used a simulated medical game to diagnose and treat a patient with a traumatic brain injury that resulted from a bicycle accident.

Veronica Vazquez’s Honors Multivariable Calculus with Applications course had students figuring out how to take the equations for two different curves and project them in three-space using vectors to the eye of an observer. This created an "ambiguous cylinder,” a solid that looks like a cylinder from one perspective and a square prism from another. Students then projected the curves on a plane to create a template they could cut out and tape together to create a paper ambiguous cylinder and amaze their friends.

Students in the NCSSM Online Program are expected to take a minimum of 4 courses over their two-year experience, and it is evident, even from this small sample, that it must be very hard to choose which courses to take. No matter which courses are chosen, we know it is going to be a great experience. Our next opportunity for Online Weekends is in the spring, with some spring-semester classes meeting in late February and others in early May. We look forward to once again convening our community of online students, teachers, and coordinators!