Curriculum and Teaching Tools Development
The curriculum and teaching tools for the course "Aspects of Symmetry" (UIC Honors College) were developed over a period of nearly ten years and was offered for the last time in the Spring semester of 2014. The course syllabus, in its latest version, is appended below, followed by the term projects "Aspects of Symmetry" I-IX. The last three of those projects were produced when the course was offered as a full-credit, while the remaining ones (I-VI) were produced when the course was offered as one-credit.
The goal of this course is introducing some of the basic aspects of symmetry as a language allowing you to think, read, write, and eventually explain many facets of our natural world in all its complexity and beauty. The course has two major objectives: You will (1) learn the mathematical elements of the language of symmetry, and (2) apply those elements in the context of a topic of your choice when contributing with a paper to our joint book project. While learning the elements of the language you will see its usefulness in the classification of objects and experimental observations, in the study of handedness in sea conchs and crystals, eye glass lenses, polarization of light, perception of symmetry, in the study of symmetry in structural chemistry and biology, or in the laws of physics. The topics to be selected will be adjusted to reflect the student’s collective interests as we move along the semester. Your contribution to the joint text will develop from your Annotated Bibliography on the topic of your choice. In the annotated bibliography you will briefly review each one of the papers you have identified for your topic with the purpose of demonstrating the role of symmetry in that context. In the bibliography you only need to review what the authors have said or reported. You are expected to review at least 5 professional publications related to your topic. While the annotated bibliography is often itemized by the reviewed publications, the more challenging part is expanding it into your Contributed Paper (about 10 pp.) where the subject of your narrative is now the overall content of the selected papers. It is now about your appreciation and critique of that content. These two projects, obviously, are NOT of the type “homework due tomorrow”, as you can certainly see why. On the other hand, you could (perhaps should…) start them up since the first day of class and enjoy their development without rushing it.
The course makes extensive use of the vast and costly content in our library system, most of it accessible online. This in itself will prove to be an asset along your training at UIC.
All course material will be made available through publicly accessible internet sites and there is no required textbook. All reading material and software will be available through the existing library resources or/and other means, without additional cost to you.