Showcasing First-Year Students Work – Hobart and William Smith Colleges \
The HWS Update

Showcasing First-Year Students Work

On a Tuesday evening, crowds of students stood waiting in line to try their hand at a physics experiment – part of the first annual First Year Seminar Symposium. Including the final projects of seven seminars, the symposium aimed to give the campus community a glimpse into the hard work of its newest members.

“What these students have accomplished in a just few months is truly remarkable,” remarked Associate Professor of German Eric Klaus, who helped to organize the event. Klaus’ seminar, “Haunting Memories,” also presented a short film on the uncanny at the event.

“This is such a hectic time in the semester, and it’s important to realize that when things get hectic, we must pause to reflect. Less than four months ago, students met their roommates for the first time, attended theis first classes – and a lot has happened between then and today. All of these students should be proud.”

Throughout the Sanford and Geneva rooms, first-year students showcased their final class projects – ranging from hands-on physics demonstrations to poster presentations on the “Secret Life of Food,” and the science and politics of climate change.

“These presentations highlight what makes the First Year Seminar program so powerful – it shows that our students are constantly refining and rethinking how they view the world,” said Klaus.

Students from Assistant Professor of Physics Illeana Dumitriu’s “Biophysics of Human Motion” seminar provided symposium-goers with the opportunity to test difficult concepts such as center of gravity and angular momentum. One such final project incorporated the motion sensor of an Xbox Kinect. Using the program Virtual Sensei, the students measured kinetic energy and total energy over time to analyze the movements of volunteers for form, speed and efficiency.

This information, explained Christopher Demas ’17, can be applicable to a number of fields, including medicine, for a patient who is injured or has a problematic motion, and athletics, for players looking to improve their game.

Another project asked participants to bend at the waist and touch a piece of candy their nose – without the assistance of their hands for balance. Those with a higher center of gravity, explained Stef Schmitz ’17, would most likely have a more difficult time completing the task.

While students lined up, daring their friends to try the tricky feat, Schmitz explained that this type of event is not only important for understanding the work done by her peers, but it is a fun, as well. “I love being able to see what all the other first year seminars have been up to,” she said.

Her partner in the project Sarah Honan ’17 agreed, “It’s amazing to see the variety of seminars that are available, and all of the different subjects and topics we are all learning.”

Following presentations from Professor of Dance Donna Davenport’s “Thinking and Creating,” seminar, which asked students to use the Root-Bernstein text, “Sparks of Genuis: The 13 Thinking Tools of the World’s Most Creative People” to rethink the typical approach to a personal essay, Klaus pointed to the real imagination of first-year students.

Said Klaus, “These projects show that even in their first semester alone, students are utilizing their creativity, and now the community can see that students invest so much of themselves in their projects.”