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In the News
9 January 2012 in Focus: Classes 19, 20, pairs ready for 17th Presentation Contest
Classes 19, 20 students make last-minute adjustments to their presentations ahead of Saturday's seventeenth installment of the history presentation contest.
Frost-studded windows, taken with a silent, overcast horizon. Outside a hazy window, trees assume their mid-season brilliant white from the falling chaff. Days of frigid temperatures and chilly hallways huddle students into the cornered Chungmu Hall classroom, C202, reducing once requisite snowball fights to just sporadic few-minute sessions between classes. Rows of chairs fill with silent onlookers yet the room frenzies in activity. Teaching-assistant Yoo Seung-in, touting a peach-hue card over his head, indicates the thirty-second grace period. The student continues the speech, her voice suddenly rasps in the conclusion. After minutes of questioning, discussion, and some quick laughs, the last of the twelve Class-20 students sits, mulls over notes, wondering whether she should have talked about forces, buoyancy, and a cylinder. Does she know enough about its history? The process repeats a few hours later in Class-19, which has eleven students, all in history of science topics. Afterwards, two teachers and the teaching-assistant stare at a computer screen, pondering at the numerical spreadsheet.
This week's scoring is different. For, after two weeks of reading, coaching, analyzing, questioning, and citing sources, the two selected winners will advance to a grandeur venue, not another breezy classroom, and to a Saturday not Wednesday booking. The campwide History Presentation Contest, held just once each GLPS, showcases some of the most talented (among very talented) students across 24 classes. As a prologue, only the top 16 percent in each level (level 1, total of 12 among a pool of 72 students in classes 19-24) are selected through a combination of 'soft' and 'hard' skills to advance to the camp-wide gala.Abbasid Caliphate from multiple directions; and Islamic scientists greatly extended, refined, and corrected Hellenistic ideas. Their contributions to science are under-reported if not corrosively ignored. In classroom work, Jiyoon is quick to laugh; she is caring, responsible, and compassionate. In classroom performance, she studies on Sundays in C202, translating highly abstract words such as azimuth, nadir, circumpolar, and astrolabe. Hard work pays off. She finishes in second place in week two, surveying the historical development of the Roman calendar around the time of Caesar, and sets the standard in week three, finishing first with, "Islamic astronomy and astrology, and how it came from the Greeks". For it she sifts through three sources, including college-level survey texts, and continually rewrites the presentation draft until the understanding helps her to distance from unoriginal copying.
There is no demand placed on the students to acquire content knowledge. Instead, emphases are placed on the learning of context, use of primary sources in English, asking of good questions, analyzing, demonstration of independence and originality, and organization of a paper and presentation. Readers are not tasked with becoming experts in the history of science. As students are still in secondary school, being a kid plays a sizable role, too. Racing to slide across the floor with the teacher and "ang-dancing" are camp classics.
Across the room, staring self-possessed at his notebook, sits Song Jae-heon (Steve; C19). A generous, polite, hardworking young man, in the first week Steve reads excerpts of ray-tracing and various hypotheses of light from antiquity to better grasp how the Greeks like Euclid and later Muslim Persians like Alhazen understood the nature of vision. Piecing together an effective presentation about extramission (ancient hypothesis that our eyes were like light-houses) and intromission (the contemporaneous theory that light reflects from objects and into the eye and optic nerves), Steve comments about the 300 BC works of Euclid, the 1000 AD works of Alhazen, and quotes about the latter's disatisfaction with Euclid's "forms"; the Muslim scholar's work later leads to our modern view of the psychology of perception. Fast forward a week and Steve substantially improves in organization and abstract thought, delivering a convincing presentation about the world's first earthquake detector, or seismometer, developed by Zhang Heng in AD 132, 1,700 years before the Europeans. Focusing between the years 100 to 1200 in six minutes of oral discussion, Steve surveys the Eastern Han Dynasty, China's seismic activity, Zhang Heng's persona, and explains the physics behind the device.
In it he relates an interesting story. In one famous anecdote: "one day a ball dropped from a dragon but was unaccompanied with tremble. Thinking the device was broken, court officials began to doubt its authenticity. Several days letter a messenger arrived bringing news of an earthquake that devastated Lung Hsi, 640 kilometers away. They never doubted it again."
Using terms like inertia, force, levers, pins and accompanying the talk with illustrations, Steve dazzles both teachers and the TA with drawings and modern interpretations of the triggering mechanism. Explaining the physics of pendulum motion and resistance to change, with time to mention its impact, he, too uncovers some original interpretations (previously unknown to him, of course) -- by the 1200s, a thousand years into the device, not only do the Chinese nearly lose track of its existence, but also the technology never assumes a sphere of influence outside of China. Steve offers why at the competition.
Da-eun then moves on to natural sciences and mathematics; mind you she is in her teens.
Half-way into the presentation she discusses buoyancy, the lever, and area under a downward parabola. All but a few can digest with her points. Da-eun then rounds her report concluding with a final take-home message while nodding to Archimedes' principles that impact modern conveniences. The presentation takes tremendous effort for a young person: lots of reading in Polybius, in primary sources such as Polybius and Livy, which is advanced in level; she manages concepts, and reads two other books to put the ideas into their proper historical context. Da-eun celebrates her top finish with a cup of hot-chocolate and a few text deliveries to close friends. She glances again at handouts the next afternoon.
A project can be as small or big as the thinker envisions it. With independence, initiative, and curiosity, Yeonwu set himself in the first week to ancient Arabic internal medicine and the works of ninth century physician Al-Razi. Al-Razi was a prominent figure in the Islamic Golden Age, contributing to over 200 books and generally acknowledged as the "father of pediatrics" for systematically studying diseases in children. At first Yeonwu recoils about working on anything to do with the region, maintaining that he lacks such knowledge, Arabic names are challenging to read, Islamic achievement is categorically obscure, and the Middle East is to a degree veiled in disapproval. However, by the end of the first week his mood changes and subscribes to Islamic antiquity. Despite the material’s technical difficulty that manifest into some presentation errors, Yeonwu's essential understanding is strong, finishing at the top; with negligible teacher direction he immediately moves his effort East to the stunning Chinese invention of the magnetic compass. Laboring through a number of sources including the popular science book Riddle of the Compass by Amir Aczel, Yeonwu reads in raptures at the brilliant invention developed over a period beginning in the second century BC in the Han Dynasty to before the end of the Song Dynasty in the thirteenth century.
Used to indicate direction, navigators especially put the compass to good use at sea as extant land was lost sight. Scholars believe the Chinese began to understand the magnetic properties of the mineral lodestone and used it to arrange buildings for talismanic luck, known as feng shui or to us as geomantics. The first practical application of lodestone is believed to have been done at the palace of Chin Shi Hwang in 221 BC. The entire gate was made of it and anyone who tried to enter with weapons would be found out. It was perhaps the world's first iron detector. After grappling with putting the handouts of the various Chinese compasses in their proper chronological order and understanding the science in their construction, Yeonwu fronts the class and delivers ardent views about the Song, compass designs, and its impact on the world. It turns out in the 1200s the Venetians were keen to import the technology, though its impression elsewhere was neither immediate nor revolutionary. Nevertheless, Yeonwu concludes, glancing at a friend's keychain-compass, that its gradual impact on exploration was comprehensive, enduring, commencing a new era for human civilization.
In the News
21 January 2012: Classes 19, 20 receive accolades at GLPS 17
Despite a thorny start at GLPS 17 (lackluster performance at the 'pop-song' contest; gesticulations from the writing program) and losing two students by the end of week three, class 19 pridefully reflect about four camp-wide accomplishments: jump-rope competition (1st place), 17th Presentation Contest (3rd place, Song Jae-heon), mock trial (decisive victory, team 19A), and Best PA (3rd place, Kim Yun-young). Class 20, too, can appreciate recognized efforts: 17th Speech Contest (2nd place, Yun San, thanks to her coach), mock trial (two decisive victories, teams 20A and 20B, thanks to Messrs. Humphrey and Blaney). Other recognition includes in-class accomplishments: model student (Kim Ji-yoon), mathematics (Shin Hyesu), most-improved (Yun Aram), and best blogger (Kim Ji-yoon). Congratulations to teachers and students!
21 January 2012: Class Portraits
In the News
11 August 2012: History of science students continue to stimulate interest at contests
Class 20, 21 work imprints upon 18th presentation venue.On an unusually cool, dry summer's night in Dasan Hall, a group of students present work about Eratosthenes' measurement of earth's circumference two-thousand years ago, the effect of Feng Shui on China's border countries, the inauspicious psychology of comet sightings, and the transfer of astronomical knowledge during 'Chinese Wave I'. In a program that did not exist a year ago, students blend both content and context learning to better grasp the comingled effects of science and society in the East, Middle East, and West.
Tapping on her notes and using several highlighters to underscore key points as she fronts the audience, Cha Shi-eun (class 20) bemoans the tendency of readers to trust contemporary authors who write on much older science topics, reporting the near confusion of several secondary sources in how Eratosthenes of Kyrene (c. 276 BC–c. 195 BC) determined earth's circumference. Cha relates to judges that when she first took on the topic about the famed Greek mathematician, she did so because it seemed that topic was well-vetted in the literature—that is—safe. Little did she realize that her self-possessed curiosity would not only lead her to uncover that secondary sources are at times nebulous in reliability, but also that the sources themselves would become the centerpiece of her project.
Eratosthenes is credited in calculating the circumference of the earth by the use of sticks, shadows, feet, and brains. His reckoning more than two thousand years ago of 240,000 stadia (~39,000 kilometers) is within four percent of the modern value (40,075 kilometers). His work advanced the study of geodesy.In her seven minute presentation, Cha retraces, compiles, and categorizes incoherence among five books in the crucial specifics of his calculation. Not only does she come to small discrepancies about the object used to observe the shadows (a stick in some books, an obelisk in others, a water well in yet another), but she also recounts that there is no general unanimity in how the distance was measured (pacer in one book, camels in others, a soldier mentioned in passing in another). She
Meanwhile, three other students showcase their work at the presentation contest among the audience and judges on Saturday night. Park Jiyeon (class 20), after reporting on famed polymath Hildegard von Bingen (1098–1179) in week two, relocates her attention on East Asian science by asking, "Did Feng-shui affect cultures that bordered Chinese dynasties such as the Han?" Park conducts a short literature review based on Srapp (2008), Fung (1948), and Twicken (2000) to clarify Feng Shui interpretation on various societies. As her speaking slot ends, a judge puts a question to her about her central thesis. "Feng Shui design directs this kind of city layout, but, not all cities then used that layout. Does that not destroy her thesis?" Park, scanning the room as she composes her response, absorbs, and declares that there most certainly were exceptions to the rule, but those exceptions involve plans that changed merely the orientation of the design, and not the composition of mountains, rivers, and other layout items.he capitulated his throne to the encroaching Spanish conquistadors led by Hernando Cortes. Park details comet sightings from ancient chronicles to sixteenth century European annals, follows corresponding commentaries in royal court documents, and penetrates a view of the topic into its historical context. A lively contributor to the history of the sciences class, Park Jeong-weon joined the presentation team after offering her question, "How did Mi Hwang-fu influence acupuncture during the Jin?," with strong marks. The following week Park addresses a topic that becomes the most popular at camp, the development of beer in Mesopotamia.
Both spatial and temporal diversity increased at GLPS 18. There was a substantial increase in the number of topics that covered the ancient Near East and Mesopotamia. Requests by students also included more selections in health care, botany, and women scientists. For example, Kwon Shi-eun grappled with ancient texts to study the manufacturing of perfume in the 12th century, Park Sung-hyun mulled over Faiella (2005), Sarton (1959), and Taton (1963) to understand the development of land transportation in Mesopotamia, and Hwang Si-yeon studied Nasr (2007) and other texts on an exploration of hospitals in Baghdad and Damascus in the middle ages as leading centers in health care. Assumed topics on ancient women included Hypatia (d. 415) and Hildegard von Bingen (1098-1179).
Other factors may have contributed to the burgeoning of new research topics at GLPS 18. The school's generous expansion of history of science books on its library shelves, an additional 65 gigabytes of BBC and other programming documentaries launched this summer, and greater contact time with TAs, have been noted in daily classroom interactions this camp.
In the News
18 August 2012: Classes 20, 21 proudly finish at GLPS 18
Despite being a bit smaller, younger, and delivering one fewer presentation unlike other level-one classes, the history of the sciences team is proud to announce exceptional results at GLPS 18 among a total of eighty participants (in typical cases). Though the class philosophy is 1. Have fun; 2. Learn something new, with little mention of winning, we pay credit thus.
18 August 2012: Class portrait
In the News
20 October 2012: AP History students represent KMLA in research at the First IHPST in Asia
Park Joo-won, Ko Hae-uk, represent KMLA in history themes at the International History, Philosophy, and Science Teaching Group (IHPST) international conference in Seoul, 18-20 October.
Hosted by Seoul National University and populated by over 150 attendees from more than 20 countries, two KMLA high school students vying to showcase their research participated in IHPST's first ever meeting in Asia. The KMLA entrustment was supervised by Alexander Ganse—teacher of advanced placement (AP) history, architect behind the much admired WHKMLA: World History at KMLA website, and manager at GLPS.
For Park Joo won (senior) and Ko Hae-uk (sophomore), it was a chance encounter to experience an international conference whose central theme overlaps with their summer's AP world history course. Ganse’s innovative teaching led three students (one student withdrew due to examinations) to successfully gain entry to display poster presentations during the conference’s junior session, a segment designed for younger researchers such as postdoctoral associates and postgraduates a spot to casually discuss research results in an informal yet at times intense setting. Park and Ko are two of only four other high school presenters, and are seven years younger than the other poster presenters, most of whom are postgraduates at research universities in Korea, Asia, and even Europe.
Park Joo-won, a graduating senior, put her term paper into the presentation, "Management of Nuclear Power in History," and Ko Hae-uk, a sophomore presently on leave, prepared, "Transfer of Knowledge and Skills from the World of Islam to Christian Europe." Though a majority of work came from the students, much was honed by Ganse’s expertise in constructive criticism, historical context, and content refinement.
For their part, the student restlessly prepared. Park completed her paper during spring semester, revised it, and prepared with great care for the conference. Park and Ganse attended fifteen oral presentations of other researchers, and in ten of those she queried the presenter or offered a comment. In one exposition slot, the researcher listed eight types of student misinterpretation of scientific topic taught in class. After Park's comment, the researcher's list expanded to nine types. Impressive for an eighteen year old.
The three day conference featured dozens of oral presentations by some of the most active academicians and teachers around, plenary sessions by distinguished scholars, and invited symposia set in an interactive format. Park Joo-won energetically participated in post-presentation discussion and entered into personal communication with attendees.
Ultimately, the junior session had to end, but not without senior faculty echoing in the halls among each other, "but they’re only high school students." The time in the junior session was transformed into a new focus, a quality built on initial efforts by the organizers to insert a younger section only on condition it would be of quality. Ganse, Park, and Ko do not fail to impress. The experience on the KMLA delegation was positive.
The students made most of the opportunities provided in the venue, established some contacts, impressed IHPST's first ever installment in Asia, and fit seamlessly into the conference. It appears that the experiment on high school students at a major conference was a viewed as a success by education promoters. Even more, Alexander Ganse's innovative teaching style is living proof that a form of education that shifts its pivot away from the teacher and onto the student works.
"History of science class at GLPS, and the attendance of IHPST, served to deepen my understanding of the area, as well as to widen my horizon," Ganse maintains.
In the News
19 January 2013: Class 22 students prepare for 19th presentation contest
24 January 2013: GLPS 19 class portrait
15 February 2013: GLPS program admits to top universities
We are proud to recognize the hard work of KMLA students involved in the GLPS history section. Congratulations to to Cho Anan, who will read history at the University of Oxford; Kim Do-young, physics and philosophy, University of Oxford; Myeong Do-hyeong, history, Princeton University; and Oh Kwonsok (GLPS 19 history of science), applied mathematics, Brown University! We at the history of the sciences program are personally grateful for their contributions, proud of their achievements, and wish them the best in their endeavors!
In the News
10 August 2013: History of science students present at perhaps the most contestable presentation gala to date
Class 20 students prepare for the 20th presentation contest. Kim Ji-hee retraces Ibn Al-Haytham's mathematical explanation of the al-bayt al-Muslim (camera obscura), explains how it works, and the impact it had on the rest of physics. Her sources are Islamic Science: An Illustrated Study, by S. H. Nasr, Ibn al-Haytham, by B. Steffans, and Science and Civilization in Islam, by S. H. Nasr. Kwon Oh-jun defines the difference between the geocentric and heliocentric systems before addressing the world's largest astronomical observatory in the middle ages, Maragha, and the development and refinement of astronomical work lead by Nasr al-Din al-Tusi. His sources are Science in Medieval Islam, by H. R. Turner, Islamic Science and Engineering, by D. Hill, Islamic Science and the Making of the European Renaissance, by G. Saliba, and the House of Wisdom, by J. al-Khalili.
17 August 2013: Class 20 history of the sciences group photo
15 September 2013: Photo with history of science TA at Princeton
- Kim Ji-yoon's Writing Blog
- Song Jae-heon's Writing Blog
- Hwang Daeun's Writing Blog
- Lee Yeonwu's Writing Blog
- Scott Garrioch's GLPS 17 Writing Program
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