2013 Bates Summer Scholars Program: Academics
The Bates Summer Scholars take two Bates courses during their six-week session. These are courses normally taught in a twelve-week semester, but Summer Scholars take a two-course load instead of the usual four courses. Nevertheless, things move at a fast clip. Classes meet several times a week, and labs two or more times per week.
The goal of the academic component of the Summer Scholars Program is to introduce first-year students to college-level math and science, so the courses are rigorous: these are not bridge or remedial courses. Class meetings are lively, informal, and discussion-based; all Summer Scholars are expected to participate fully in each class. Labs are hands-on investigations of complex questions.
The math course, for example, is less about the algebraic manipulation of mathematical expressions (usually the focus of high school math) and more about mathematical reasoning, logic, and problem-solving strategies. Students investigate some of the most complex ideas in mathematics through activities and discussions. Topics from the course come from several branches of mathematics such as number theory, probability, statistics, chaos theory, geometry, and topology, all of which are covered in greater detail in upper-level courses for math majors.
The lab science course focuses on designing experiments, analyzing data, and presenting conclusions. Students find Bates science labs to be quite different from high school versions. Labs at Bates don’t ask you to replicate a process and fill in the blanks; they really make you think like a scientist.
In 2013, the Bates Summer Scholars will take two courses over the six-week term: one course in mathematics co-taught by Catherine Buell and Pallavi Jayawant, and one lab course in chemistry, taught by Rachel Austin. Here are the course descriptions:
MATH 110. Great Ideas in Mathematics. Is mathematics composed of impenetrable formulas to be memorized, a series of insurmountable cliffs to be scaled? Are there individuals who can think logically and creatively, but never “do math”? In this course, students are asked to use their imagination to grapple with challenging mathematical concepts. The process enables them to master techniques of effective thinking, experience the joy of discovering new ideas, and feel the power of figuring out things on their own. Together they contemplate some of the greatest and most intriguing creations of human thought, from Pythagoras to the fourth dimension, from chaos to symmetry. [Q] C. Buell and P. Jayawant.
CHEM 103. Urban Lead Pollution. This course examines the problem of urban lead in general and the problem of lead pollution in Lewiston and Auburn in particular. The course covers background information on why lead in urban environments presents a human health risk and reviews data showing the relationships between exposure, blood lead levels, and health effects. Students measure lead concentrations in soils. Emphasis is placed on learning proper sampling and analytical techniques. The course covers the chemistry necessary to understand how lead has been used and distributed in society, and to understand why it is toxic. [S] [L] [Q] R. Austin.
The summer courses are regular Bates courses, so when you begin the fall semester you already have two courses completed. The summer courses usually fulfill one or more General Education requirements, especially the Scientific Reasoning [S], Laboratory Experience [L], or Quantitative Literacy [Q] requirements, and may count toward General Education Concentrations [fondly known as GECs].
If you are selected as a Summer Scholar, you are likely to be majoring in math or one of the sciences. The summer courses are just some of many courses you will be taking in these fields of study.
A key feature of the Summer Scholars Program is the degree to which students study together. “If I don’t understand something, I can go to my neighbors,” said one scholar. “Everybody helps everybody, and nobody is selfish about it.” Living together in one house invites this sort of collaborative learning – while some students prefer to work alone, most gather spontaneously to work out challenging material in study sessions. This prepares you well for learning at Bates, where group work is common and collaboration–rather than competition–is encouraged.
In addition to the faculty who teach the courses, teaching assistants also regularly run review and help sessions. “The academic aspects of the program merged with the social,” said one student. “We got to know each other while doing homework and helping each other out at the house and in labs.”
Beyond the Summer
As the Summer Scholars enter the fall semester with the rest of the first-year class, they continue to connect with the student mentors who have participated in the program in previous years or who have served as residence fellows or teaching assistants. The mentoring program includes regular meetings where the Summer Scholars reconnect and discuss a broad range of issues facing first-year students transitioning to college.