LETTER: Squamish professor wants your problems | Squamish Chief

LETTER: Squamish professor wants your problems

At Quest University we are always trying to get our students to be independent thinkers and to take charge of their education.  One of the ways that we encourage this is through active, experiential learning.  In December, I am teaching a course in modeling, and we need some problems to model and try to solve. 

Will you help us out by sending us your problems? 

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Here is the course description:

The world that we live in is magnificently complicated. The role of the scientist is to ask important unanswered questions, then to systematically build and organize knowledge in ways that can shed light on phenomena that we wish to understand better. How do we know we have found an answer to our question? A mathematical model is a representation used to gain an understanding of a system, to study its different components, and to predict future behaviour. In this introduction to modeling, students will become familiar with the formulation of a well-defined problem, the identification of key quantities, the collection of reliable data, the formulation in terms of mathematics and solution, the comparison of results with data, and the communication of results. Aimed at all people interested in doing science.

We are looking for things we can quantify.  The students will work on creating a mathematical model that describes what is currently happening and then adjust the model to show how to improve or optimize or find some better solutions.

These problems could be issues your business is dealing with or lingering questions that you have as a citizen.  For example, are reusable growlers an economic or environmental benefit?  How can we schedule staff and clients to minimize physical contact?  Where should we spend our advertising money?  Should I suck it up and buy an electric car for my commute to the city?  Does relocating bears actually work?  Why is a particular intersection dangerous and how could it be improved?  How do we get people up a mountain efficiently?

Now, let’s be clear about what we are capable of.  This is a first modeling course for students who are interested in sciences. Our mathematics will not be sophisticated and so our models will not likely be very accurate.  But hey, we’re learning, and that’s important. 

Please help the people of Quest connect with you, our community, while enriching the student experience.  Perhaps we can make some lasting connections and change the minds and lives of these students.  Maybe we can just give them some really hard, real problems to think about for a while. 

Send your questions/problems to professor Asia Matthews: asia.matthews@questu.ca.  Our course runs Nov. 23 to Dec. 16. 

Asia Matthews

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