I’m home from doing my “I’m a Computer Scientist” lesson, and to say I’m mentally drained would be quite the understatement. The most notable challenge was doing an interactive lesson five different times with quite diverse classroom compositions. It takes a lot of mental effort to be constantly adjusting your plan to work with different personalities and different classroom diversities.
My main goals for the lesson were to introduce them to how prevalent computers are, explore what kinds of things a computer scientist do, and explain how my research involves creating languages. They explored the kinds of things needed when creating a language: symbols, words, meanings, method of communication, etc. Then we briefly talked about what is involved in using our language to communicate our intentions to the computer.
I’d say the day went fairly well. I was a little bit nervous because the lesson was much more involved than last year’s, and I really wanted to find a way to talk about the general area of my research–an area that is very abstract and difficult to talk about without some prior knowledge. Some classes went better than others, but I’m overall happy with how the day went. In most classes we had a couple of minutes at the end for the students to write in their science notebooks about the kinds of things a computer scientist does–hopefully they had more ideas of what to say than at the start of the class.